NHL Notes: Victor Hedman adjusts to life without Steve Stamkos

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Victor Hedman’s wallet is full, but his heart is empty. 

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The big defenceman signed his four-year extension with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday as the shock of Steven Stamkos’s departure for Nashville was still being absorbed. Hedman’s $32 million US deal kicks in next season and was affordable in part because the team decided to move on from its two-time Stanley Cup champion captain Stamkos after 16 seasons. 

“Obviously, losing a guy that’s been my best friend for the past 15 years … seeing Stammer go was not something that anyone expected,” Hedman told local media.  

“Me and Stammer have had a lot of conversations throughout the past few weeks. What’s been said is going to stay between us, but it’s a sad, sad day, not just for me but for the fans, the organization and the city of Tampa. 

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“It’s going to be hard going into our locker room and Amalie Arena not seeing him on the ice, super weird.” 

Hedman didn’t want to get into speculation that he will be named next captain of the team. 

When the last hope faded that the Bolts woukd bring him back, Stamkos took a night to sleep on his options and signed his $32-million, four-year deal on Monday.  

“It truly has been a whirlwind of emotions,” Stamkos said on a Zoom call with media. “I’m not going to lie, it was difficult. By no means did I ever envision a day like this happening. It was a tough pill to swallow.” 

Stamkos won’t have to wait long to face his former team when the season starts. The Preds visit on Oct. 28. 

Stamkos said Nashville “hit a lot of boxes” in terms of it being a competitive team and a fit as a city to raise his young family. Childhood friend and Team Canada mate Luke Schenn and his wife proved vital in answering any questions about the team and the town for the Stamkos clan. Stamkos and Jonathan Marchessault, another player who found himself on the street with the Vegas Golden Knights, both signed on Monday, Marchessault calling Stamkos to excitedly discuss the potential of them both boosting the Preds’ offence. 

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HERDING CATS 

The newly crowned champion Panthers took time out of their non-stop partying the past week to sign a much-needed defenceman. 

Nate Schmidt, who played for Florida coach Paul Maurice in Winnipeg and was just bought out by that club, headed for warmer climes on Tuesday on a one-year deal worth $800,000. The 32-year-old has more than 700 games of NHL experience and his buyout from the Jets cost them  $533,333.  

Panthers’ GM Bill Zito is happy to see someone come into the den as the club had quickly lost defencemen Brandon Montour (Seattle), Oliver-Ekman Larsson (Toronto). forwards Ryan Lomberg (Calgary), Kevin Stenlund (Utah) and goalie Anthony Stolarz (Toronto). 

BLUES ADD BODIES  

The St. Louis Blues, doing their best to keep pace in an increasingly well-armed Central Division as Utah also made big moves last week to get established, made two trades Tuesday and signed Pavel Buchnevich to a six-year, $48-million contract. 

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They added 30-year-old centre Radek Faksa from the Dallas Stars and winger Mathieu Joseph from the Ottawa Senators, each for future considerations. Faksa had 19 points in 74 regular season games, one goal in eight playoff matches. He has 200 points in 638 regular-season games. Joseph is coming off a career-high 35 points in 72 games, with two seasons to go on a four-year deal. No salary was retained in either deal. 

LIFTING THE HIRING FREEZE

While coach Joel Quenneville and GM Stan Bowman can be hired again in the NHL after the two Blackhawks and fellow front office member Al MacIssac were reinstated almost three years after their part in ignoring the Kyle Beach scandal, where they work next is not clear. 

In the lone coaching spot open, Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Don Waddell has not been indicative that Quenneville is a candidate. In Edmonton, where Ken Holland just departed and CEO Jeff Jackson says he won’t be filling the GM job himself, Bowman’s name came up and Jackson said he had been too busy with the draft and free agency to give Bowman serious thought. 

ICE CHIPS

Defenceman Erik Brannstrom, who became a free agent when Ottawa didn’t qualify him, signed a one-year, $900,000 deal Tuesday with Colorado … James Reimer will join his sixth NHL team, signing a one-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres … Brian Dumoulin is headed down the coast, traded from the Seattle Kraken to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday for a fourth-round pick in 2026. The two-time Cup winner with Pittsburgh has 155 points in 626 regular-season games with the Kraken and Penguins … The Hockey Hall of Fame Game in Toronto this year is Nov. 8, when the Detroit Red Wings visit, good timing for Pavel Datsyuk’s induction with the class of 2024 on Nov. 11. 

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