Victor Hedman injury update: Norris Trophy candidate never returns after hard hit

This is an injury that could truly derail the Lightning’s Stanley Cup hopes.

Defenseman and Norris Trophy candidate Victor Hedman left Tampa Bay’s 6-3 loss to the Capitals on Saturday after delivering a hard hit to Washington forward Carl Hagelin.

He never returned.

Coach Jon Cooper told reporters after the game he would be “re-evaluated.”

Cooper did not say whether or not Hedman was in concussion protocol.

Hedman won the Norris Trophy last season as the NHL’s best defenseman and he is likely to finish near the top of the list once again this year as he is close to matching last season’s numbers with 12 goals, 42 assists, 54 points and a plus/minus of 25 on the season.

The 28-year-old leads the Lighting in ice time with 22:59 minutes per game.

Tampa Bay is fortunate to have Ryan McDonagh on the team as well, but if Hedman is out for an extended period of time it could force the team to adjust its defensive lines which is a risky proposition this late in the season.