Drafted 89th overall by the Calgary Flames in the fourth round of the 1996 NHL draft, Toni Lydman started his professional hockey career that year with Tappara of the Finnish National League (SM-Liiga). He played 97 games with the team over two seasons, scoring five goals and adding 12 assists for 17 points. He also had 113 penalty minutes and was rated a minus-6 during his time with Tappara.
He then joined Idrottsföreningen Kamraterna i Helsingfors (abbreviated HIFK) in 1998, scoring eight goals and tallying 25 assists for 33 points in 88 games over the course of two seasons, while also adding 72 penalty minutes and a plus-26 rating.
Lydman made his NHL debut in 2000 with the Calgary Flames, where he would play for four seasons. In 289 games with the Flames, he scored 19 goals and added 74 assists for 93 points, while also accruing 140 penalty minutes and a minus-16 rating. The Calgary Flames made the Stanley Cup Final during Lydman’s only trip to the playoffs with the team in 2004, but he missed most of the playoffs due to injury. In six playoff games with the Flames that year (including three in the Stanley Cup Final), Lydman had one assist, two penalty minutes, and plus-1 rating.
After eight more regular season games and five playoff games with HIFK during the 2004-2005 NHL Lockout, Lydman joined the Buffalo Sabres in 2005. He would go on to play 371 games with the Sabres, scoring 14 goals and notching 105 assists for 119 points, while adding 311 penalty minutes and accruing a plus-30 rating. He also played 30 playoff games with the Sabres during three trips to the playoffs (2006, 2007, and 2010), compiling three goals and seven assists for 10 total points to go along with 38 penalty minutes and a plus-10 rating.
After five seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, Lydman joined the Anaheim Ducks in 2010 where he would finish off his career with three final seasons. He played 187 games with the Ducks between 2010 and 2013, scoring three goals and adding 41 assists for 44 total points while tallying 100 penalty minutes and a plus-31 rating. Lydman also played nine playoff games with the Ducks during two trips to the playoffs (2011 and 2013), recording two penalty minutes and a minus-1 rating while being held without a point.
During the 2013 playoffs with the Anaheim Ducks, Lydman took a blindside hit to the head from Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader late in the second period of game three of the two teams’ first round series. Abdelkader received a five minute major for charging and a game misconduct for the hit, and also earned a two game suspension. Lydman would go on to miss the rest of the series with a concussion due to the hit, which ultimately became the last play of his professional hockey career as the Ducks were eliminated from the playoffs.
In the end, Lydman played 847 games in the NHL over the course of 12 seasons, scoring 36 goals and adding 206 assists for 242 total points. He also had 551 penalty minutes and was rated a plus-45 during his NHL career.
Additionally, in 55 total playoff games, Lydman had three goals and eight assists for 11 total points, while adding 42 penalty minutes and a plus-10 rating.
Upon retirement, Lydman will return to his native Finland and join the Finnish television channel Nelonen as an analyst for their broadcasts of SM-Liiga games.