clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Robert Hagg was probably a healthy scratch on Sunday in Lehigh Valley

The young Swede got a view from the press box while healthy for the first time in his AHL career on Sunday. Is this a concern?

Pat Jacoby Photography

One of the biggest storylines for the Flyers' organization as a whole this year is the progression of its several young defensive prospects. With a group that's been labeled by many as the most impressive group of blueline prospects of any team in the league, fans have enjoyed following the exploits of these players, from Shayne Gostisbehere's taking the NHL by storm to Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim ripping the WHL to pieces to Samuel Morin and Robert Hagg getting more accustomed to the professional game in Lehigh Valley.

Given that, it was interesting to see this news coming out of Lehigh Valley on Sunday evening, where the Phantoms lost a 2-1 contest to Binghamton.

That's Tony Androckitis, Phantoms reporter for The Home News and Highland Park Hockey, and Bob Rotruck, the team's radio play-by-play man, both suggesting that Hagg's scratch on Sunday wasn't due to injury. With Andrew MacDonald back in the lineup following an injury that took him out for most of the week, Hagg was the one who ended up sitting. (Rotruck would later mention that it's not necessarily guaranteed that Hagg wasn't injured, but the evidence we have for now suggests that to be the case.)

Hagg's absence from the lineup is at least a bit noteworthy, as to our knowledge it's the first time this year that he's been a healthy scratch. That Hagg, a borderline top-100 NHL prospect, sat over the likes of Jesper Pettersson and Maxim Lamarche -- two guys who have spent time in ECHL Reading this year and are almost totally off the radar prospect-wise -- makes it all the more curious.

Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon wasn't asked post-game whether or not anything in particular prompted Hagg's departure from the lineup. With that said, Androckitis -- arguably the most plugged-in writer currently following the Phantoms -- suggested pre-game that it likely wasn't a big deal.

Androckitis and Brent Baldwin over at Flyerdelphia alike pointed out that Hagg had a fairly rough game this past Friday, tallying a minus-3 in a 4-3 loss to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (and while I'm skeptical of plus-minus by itself as an indicator of bad performance, I will defer to both of the writers here who said he played poorly, as they both saw the game in question while I did not). The team did have another game on Saturday (one which Hagg played in), meaning Sunday's outing was their third in three games.

Hagg's second season in the AHL likely hasn't quite gone according to plan for the Phantoms (and Flyers). He missed most of the first month of the season with an injury, and he's posted just four points in 30 games after putting up 20 in 69 games last season. While Hagg is billed by many as a guy whose playing style doesn't really stand out, even when playing well, you would hope to see a bit more glowing reviews of his play from the people closely following the team. Those haven't happened, and given that he's tallied just a single goal and assist each since the beginning of December, a game from the press box may not be the worst thing for the 20-year old Swede.

With that said, you have to figure the team will want him back in the lineup sooner rather than later. The positive development of Hagg and fellow 2013 draftee Morin (who, by the way, has been playing some pretty good hockey lately) is among the most important things that the organization is looking for over in Lehigh Valley. Scratching him long-term would be fairly counter-productive -- no young player is going to learn and get better without continuing to play consistent minutes.

And even with Hagg seemingly stuck in neutral this season and with the Phantoms trying to make a push for the playoffs, it's tough to think the team will ice all of Pettersson, Lamarche, and even Davis Drewiske over him for a whole lot longer just based on the ability that the Flyers believe that he has.

Which is all to say it would be fairly surprising if Hagg was a healthy scratch again when the Phantoms head to Hershey to begin another three-in-three on Friday. But we'll be keeping our eyes peeled just in case -- and if he is out of the lineup again, then we may have reason to believe something strange is up.