Acquired via: 2013 NHL Draft - Round 2, Pick 41
Current Team/League: Modo, Swedish Hockey League
Entering the 2013 NHL Draft, it was no secret that the Flyers could stand to add some high-end defensive prospects to the cupboard. Chris Pronger was never going to play again. Kimmo Timonen came back on a one-year contract and is on the verge of retirement. Braydon Coburn struggled with an expanded role after trying to fill Matt Carle's shoes. While some of the Phantoms' callups were pleasant surprises, none appeared to be blueliners of the top-four variety.
Robert Hagg was touted as a late first round prospect entering the 2013 NHL Draft. Central Scouting had him listed as their eighth best European Skater. Hockey Prospectus had him as their 21st best prospect overall. Bob McKenzie had him as his 27th ranked prospect.
Back in May of 2013, Bill Meltzer wrote an article discussing some of the interesting defensive prospects and Hagg was highly praised.
Most draft projections and rankings peg Hägg as a late first-round pick or even an early second-rounder. However, one Swedish-based NHL scouting contact and one of the NHL.com mock drafts have Hägg ranked as a potential top-10 pick in the draft.
EliteProspects describes Hagg's skill set as follows:
A very all-round two-way defenseman. Hägg is capable of playing a pure defensive role, logging big minutes on the penalty kill, as well as contributing offensively and being valuable in power play situations. Furthermore, Hägg has good size and strength, very good vision, a heavy release and is also a mobile defenseman. Some consistency issues, although Hägg usually makes smarter plays while playing in the big league, rather than in the juniors. Lots of potential (EP, 2013)
This assessment seems to jive with another article from Bill Meltzer from late December, who makes it a point to watch Hagg as often as possible.
I have seen all or parts of 15 of the 33 games Hägg has played thus far this season. His performance has been quite inconsistent; from game-to-game and sometimes from shift to shift. His skill set is obvious -- excellent skater and passer, quick shot release, big and strong -- but he needs to do a much better job at mentally bearing down on plays. Scoring chances can develop quickly out of seemingly innocent plays, and Hägg has sometimes been his own worst enemy. On the flip side, he also has an ability to make difficult plays seem easier than they are.
On the 2013-2014 season Hagg has garnered one goal and five assists for six points in 46 games. The totals certainly don't jump out at you but it's important to remember that this is a 19 year old playing against men in one of the best league's in the world.
Hagg also found himself on the Sweden roster for the World Junior Championships this year in which Sweden won Silver. By most accounts, Hagg handled himself well in the tournament.
Robert Hägg has been impressive in the WJC for the most part. He's playing more of a defensive D role in tourney than he might in future.— Bill Meltzer (@billmeltzer) January 4, 2014
You can find some highlights of Hagg during the 2013 World Junior Championships below. He is wearing #14.
Hagg is certainly a very good prospect in an organization that can really use a bit of restocking of top-end talent. His skill set is exactly what the Flyers could use at the NHL level. Between Hagg, Samuel Morin, and Shayne Gostisbehere (the latter two will be making their appearances on this list shortly), the Flyers have found a few extremely intriguing blueliners. The question is when will Hagg and the others be ready to join the big club?
Hagg certainly appears to be further away than the others, but he's playing valuable minutes in a fantastic league. I think it's safe to say Hagg will play at least one more full year over in Sweden before contemplating a move over to North America. It also would not be surprising in the slightest if he played several more years and didn't make the jump until he is NHL ready, as opposed to seeing time with the Phantoms. Regardless, Hagg is a prospect to be excited about.
How we voted for Robert Hagg:
Who we voted for at No. 9:
|Tye McGinn||Anthony Stolarz||Tye McGinn||Robert Hagg||Samuel Morin||Luke Schenn||Taylor Leier||Jason Akeson|