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2020-21 Player Review: Robert Hagg leaves on a high note

So long, farewell, etc, etc.

Boston Bruins v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

The time has come, folks. Lengthy, tumultuous, and often divisive, the Robert Hagg saga has come to an end in Philadelphia. As part of the return for Buffalo in the trade that brought Rasmus Ristolainen to the Flyers, this awful and messy 2020-21 season was Hagg’s last with them, and in a lot of ways it was a solid individual final showing, and serves as a positive endnote and send-off.

Really, we’re not being snarky, we promise. Let’s break it down, shall we?

By The Numbers

Basic Stats

Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Shots on Goal Shooting Percentage
Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Shots on Goal Shooting Percentage
34 2 3 5 18 29 6.90%

Hagg’s not one that we’ve known to put up stellar scoring numbers, but he can chip in a bit of offense when push comes to shove. That said, his scoring pace was pretty well below the range of what we’ve seen from him in the past—in 2018-19 he put up 20 points in 82 games, and in 2019-20 it was 13 points in 49 games, while this season’s total was down to five points in 34 games played (a 12 point pace over a full 82 game season).

Now, is this something that we’re finding ourselves terribly worked up about? Not exactly. The Flyers’ offensive woes this season were widespread, and it feels hard to single out one player to be very upset with for their scoring pace being down. And, what’s more, we didn’t exactly come into the season expecting Hagg to be one of this team’s offensive drivers, so the fact that he wasn’t that isn’t a huge disappointment. Would we have liked to see him produce a bit more, to match his previous season paces? Sure, but it’s not quite an issue that’s at the front of our minds.

5v5 On-Ice Stats

Corsi-For% Corsi-For% Relative GF% Expected Goals-For% PDO
Corsi-For% Corsi-For% Relative GF% Expected Goals-For% PDO
52.36 1.46 44.8 50.06 0.984

5v5 Individual Stats

Points/60 Primary Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
Points/60 Primary Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
0.64 0.52 9.72 0.21

But turning now to the underlying numbers, we see that those are actually quite good. And this is also quite a sharp turn away from what we’ve seen over the last couple of seasons, wherein on the whole the underlying numbers were pretty poor, his pairing was getting caved in by shots and scoring chances when they were on the ice, but somehow, inexplicably, they were posting a positive goal differential. This season, though, we saw that reversed, where the Flyers were winning the share of both shot attempts and more dangerous scoring chances while Hagg was on the ice, but still getting outscored.

And there’s a lot to parse through there, and it’s not an easy task. How much of this is some kind of individual results regression? How much is a product of the Flyers’ positively abysmal goaltending situation? It’s a constellation of a lot of factors, but there isn’t a really simple answer to to how their weight is distributed. But, with all of that said, though, the big takeaway is that Hagg’s usage was limited and pretty favorable this season (he was averaging a bit under 14 minutes a night at 5-on-5 and just 21.71 percent defensive zone starts) and that made for some pretty positive underlying results. We saw him pretty close to optimized this season, and it’s a bit of a shame that it happened in his final season, and one where the team in general was a bit of a mess, to say the least.

Three Questions

Did they live up to our expectations?

The expectations for Hagg’s season were understandably pretty tempered coming in. As we mentioned earlier, his past couple of seasons saw him post less than stellar underlying numbers, but still managing to stay above water in the goal differential department, which very much left many of us with a feeling that the rug was going to be swept out from under him before long, and the goal based results would soon match the shot impacts.

But that didn’t happen! Well, we did see the goal based results take a swing downward, but that wasn’t for lack of a positive underlying process. Hagg was perfectly serviceable this season, which is more than could have been said of him in past seasons, and while this was a fact that flew under the radar at times, it certainly still deserves a positive acknowledgment. He’s going out on a high note, as it were.

What do we/can we expect next season?

A lot of this feels like it depends on how Hagg is used in Buffalo. If they see him as close to a Ristolainen replacement and plan on giving him second pair minutes, odds are that this will go badly for them. But if they use him in a role more akin to what he was placed in with the Flyers this past season, they might be able to capture the same positive results. Team effects will also certainly play a role in the results he finds next season, but this is all just to say that the Sabres can get the same serviceable depth defensemen if they opt not to play with fire and just keep him in that role.

How would you grade their 2020-21 season?

We’ll give it a B-. The results weren’t absolutely inspiring, but he was given a limited role to work with and in all of the badness that was the Flyers’ season overall, he still managed to post some good (in general and relative to his teammates) underlying results. Solidly fine.

All stats via Natural Stat Trick.

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