The Flyers have reportedly signed Robert Hagg to a two-year contract worth $2.3 million.
Hagg played in 70 games for the Flyers in 2017-18, scoring three times and adding six assists. The former second-round pick averaged 18:08 of ice time and led all Flyers with 238 hits on the season.
The 23-year-old was a restricted free agent, though he was ineligible for arbitration per Capfriendly. The new, two-year deal takes care of his restricted status and keeps Hagg in the fold as the Flyers assess what exactly they have in the defender at the NHL level with a very manageable cap hit. If Hagg excels, he’ll be in line for a nice third contract but won’t hamper the Flyers’ books in the next two years if he proves to be a replaceable piece.
After three full AHL seasons with the Phantoms, Hagg made the Flyers out of training camp and spent the season playing mostly third pair minutes for coach Dave Hakstol. Unfortunately for Hagg, the coach fell in love with pairing the rookie with veteran Andrew MacDonald. That pairing skated to a 45.37% Corsi For at 5-on-5 and even worst in all situations (43.25%). Hagg had a -4 goal differential in all situations with MacDonald, but ended the season a +10 overall.
But not everything can be planted on MacDonald, as Hagg skated to a 44.65% Corsi-For at even strength overall. Though his goals for percentage of 57.14% looked good, he was probably lucky given how badly the opposition controlled the puck while he was on the ice. Some of that can be chalked up to usage, as Hakstol leaned a little too heavily on the rookie in many cases this season, but overall Hagg has plenty to work on though he mostly held his own in his first extended NHL action.
Given that he isn’t the best skater and his offensive game is limited, he’s going to have to be better in his own zone to justify a place in the lineup going forward. Hagg also has to be a reliable puck handler even as a stay-at-home defenseman, with breakouts becoming more and more important.
Hagg is likely penciled into the lineup this season, but faces camp competition for his roster spot in the form of newcomer Christian Folin and emerging prospect Philippe Myers. Injured former first round pick Samuel Morin will also return at some point in 2018-19 from knee surgery to push Hagg for a roster spot down the road as well.