May 5, 1973 |
|Height||6 ft 0 in (183 cm)|
|Weight||185 lb (84 kg; 13 st 3 lb)|
|Played for||Pittsburgh Penguins
New Jersey Devils
|NHL Draft||218th overall, 1994
Drafted by the Flyers
Hedberg was drafted in the ninth round, 218th overall, in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers. However the Flyers never invited him from Sweden to a training camp. He was told by the Flyers that he needed to make the Swedish national team, before getting an invite to training camp. Hedberg spent five seasons with Leksands IF from 1992–97, notching a 2.79 goals-against average in 116 games. and did make the Swedish team, however he never received the invite promised to him. He then left Sweden, in 1997, to find work in the North American minor leagues, hoping that a team would notice his abilities. He started with the Baton Rouge Kingfish of the East Coast Hockey League and also played for the Detroit Vipers and Manitoba Moose of the International Hockey League before the Flyers traded Hedberg's rights to the San Jose Sharks in 1998. He returned to Leksands for the 1998-99 season before reporting to San Jose's affiliate, the American Hockey League's Kentucky Thoroughblades. for the 1999-2000 season.
At the time, the Sharks were already loaded with terrific goaltenders, younger than Hedberg, who was ranked no higher than 4th on the Sharks' goaltending depth chart, so after one season, he left the Sharks organization and rejoined Manitoba. Hedberg excelled during his second stint with the Moose in 2000–01, while they were still an unaffiliated team in the final season of the International Hockey League. His play was noticed by the Pittsburgh Penguins' assistant general manager Eddie Johnston. In March 2001, Randy Carlyle, the Moose's coach, pulled Hedberg aside at Winnipeg International Airport and told him he'd been traded to Pittsburgh, along with Bobby Dollas, in exchange for Jeff Norton. He was also informed, by Carlyle, that he was reporting directly to the Penguins.
Pittsburgh Penguins and the Olympics
Hedberg went on to stabilize the Penguins' goaltending position for the remainder of the 2000–01 season. Since Hedberg started a game in Pittsburgh on late notice, still wearing his customized Manitoba Moose helmet which, not surprisingly, had a large moose painted across it, the Pittsburgh crowds quickly nicknamed him "Moose", and would cheer for him after a spectacular save by yelling "Mooooose". This was often heard incorrectly as a boo.
He then outdueled Olaf Kolzig, of the Washington Capitals, and Dominik Hasek, of the Buffalo Sabres, to help the Penguins reach the Eastern Conference final. In 2002, Hedberg set career highs with 25 wins and a club-record 66 games with the Penguins. He was then named as the back-up goalie to Tommy Salo, on the Swedish national team and played in the 2002 Winter Olympics. Hedberg started one game for Sweden, posting a victory over Germany.
Vancouver, the lockout and Dallas
He was finally traded to the Vancouver Canucks by Pittsburgh for a second-round selection in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. The Penguins would later use that pick to draft Alex Goligoski. He registered a career-best 2.51 goals-against average in 21 games with Vancouver during the 2003–04 season. He spent the 2004–05 season playing with Leksands IF of the Swedish Second Division, due to the NHL lockout. There he notched a 2.12 GAA in 21 games.
Once the lockout ended, Hedberg signed with the Dallas Stars as a free agent on August 5, 2005. He then posted a 12-4-1 record and a 2.67 goals-against average in 19 games with the Stars. On December 26, 2005, Hedberg recorded two assists in a game against the St. Louis Blues. This is the first time a Dallas Stars goalie has ever accomplished this feat, and the first time any goalie in the NHL has done it since Patrick Roy on December 29, 2000. One assist came from a pass that met Stars captain Mike Modano at the Blues' blue line, granting him a 1-on-1 opportunity.
Hedberg signed a two-year contract with Atlanta in July 2006, and served as backup for starter Kari Lehtonen during the first year of that contract. However a long-term injury hindered Lehtonen during the 2007–08 season and Hedberg took over as Atlanta's starting goaltender for much of the season. On June 16, 2008, Hedberg signed a multi-year contract extension with the Thrashers. During the 2009–10 season, he shared time with Ondrej Pavelec as the primary starter after Lehtonen missed most of the season and was then traded. Despite Hedberg's good performance he and the Thrashers parted ways after the season.
In May 2011, while the Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg to become the Winnipeg Jets, Hedberg expressed both regret for the franchise's relocation and sympathy for the Thrashers fan-base. He stated; "I think it’s sad for the city. I believe this city can support a team and support it in a good way. Obviously, it’s been some chaotic years pretty much from Day 1 with ownership not being on the same page and I think that has hurt the franchise quite a bit...We’ve kind of made this sort of our second home for five years now and, obviously, the Thrashers were the reason we came here in the first place," Hedberg said. "I know all the people involved. I know all the people working in the front office and in hockey operations and I know a lot of the fans around. They’re hard-core fans that really don’t want to lose the team. So, I would have feeling of (sadness). There’s no doubt this could be a good hockey city, but it needs to be done the right way. This ownership has never given it a chance to do that after it got off on the wrong foot."
New Jersey Devils
On July 1, 2010, Hedberg signed a one-year deal with the New Jersey Devils, which included a no-trade clause. He served as a back-up goalie until starter Martin Brodeur suffered a February 6 injury. His contract was renewed on July 1, 2011, which again included a no-trade clause. During round one of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he was called on to play two periods in game three versus the Florida Panthers.
On July 2, 2012, Hedberg signed a two-year deal with the Devils. The contract included a no trade clause. The signing came hours after New Jersey extended the contract of Brodeur two years as well. At the time both goaltender's contracts are up, Hedberg and Brodeur's age will be 41 and 42 respectively.
On July 4, 2013, Hedberg was placed on unconditional waivers for the intentions of a compliance buyout. The Devils bought out Johan Hedberg as a result of a trade that sent Vancouver Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider to New Jersey.
New York Rangers
Hedberg signed professional tryout with the New York Rangers on September 10, 2013, due to the absence of backup goaltender Martin Biron. On September 18, soon after Biron came back, Hedberg was released from the contract. Hedberg's final professional game was played with the Albany Devils during the 2013–14 season when he was signed to a a professional tryout agreement with the AHL team, filling in for injured Keith Kinkaid.
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