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Hagg excited to continue North American play

Robert Hagg is turning heads as a reliable, well-rounded d-man at an early age

Friday, 07.11.2014 / 9:55 AM ET / News
By Jay Greenberg  - philadelphiaflyers.com
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Hagg excited to continue North American play
Hagg excited to continue North American play

For a supposedly casual guy, Robert Hagg found his first 10 games in North America last spring at Adirondack intensely invigorating.

“It is more fun to play here than in Sweden,” he says. “You can grab the forwards much easier in the corner.

“It’s much more physical. Plus, you can make one good pass and have a good scoring chance. In Sweden it takes four or five passes. The smaller ice makes the game a little bit faster.

“You have to more fully concentrate on every shift. There is going to be a goal (against) if you are going to just skate around out there ”

Robert Hagg lasted until the 41st pick of the 2013 draft because a lot of talent evaluators thought he was content to just skate around out there. The Flyers took him anyway, because, well, he skates pretty well out there and they believe characterizations of him as lazy remain lazy.

HIGHLIGHTS & INTERVIEWS OF DAY 1

“I don’t want to say it comes easy for Robert, but he gives you that appearance of casualness and I think that can be misunderstood sometimes,” said Chris Pryor, the Flyers Director of Scouting at Development Camp in the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees.

“He gets the puck and makes a play. There is not a lot of stress in his game and sometimes that is misunderstood as not competing. Robert thinks the game and lets the puck do the work.”

In today’s NHL, where quickness in the defensive zone trumps physicality, letting the puck do the work, increasingly works. That’s why the Flyers felt they had to add Mark Streit, not let Andrew MacDonald get out onto the open market: and also why Shayne Gostisbehere, who is only 5-11, nevertheless is their most exciting blueline prospect since Joni Pitkanen was drafted fourth overall in 2002.

Unlike Gostisbehere, Hagg (pronounced Heyg) hasn’t been the Most Valuable Player in any Frozen Fours, but he has played in two World Junior Tournaments.

A serious prospect, his chances of making it eventually hinge on how seriously he competes. In the 10-game sample with Phantoms at the end of last season, not only did the North American game make a favorable impression on Hagg, but he made a favorable impression on it, too.

“He played like a really well-rounded defenseman,” said Terry Murray, who coached Hagg at Adirondack and will again this season as the Flyers move the team to the Lehigh Valley. “He showed a good defensive stick and reads the play well while showing good strength.

“He made a lot of good plays, not flashy, just efficient.”

It’s not complicated. The simpler Hagg keeps it, the more effortless will become GM Ron Hextall’s decisions in making the Flyers’ defense younger and quicker in coming years.

“If I have a forward in front of me, give him the puck and follow up after," said Hagg. “Don’t try to skate it up and dangle one-two guys and then make a pass.

“Give the forward the pass and then skate up to support him.”

Often it takes years for young defensemen to realize that less is more, why they don’t often mature until age 27 or 28. This kid, who played in the Swedish Elite League at age 19, seems to already get it.

“I need more consistency, that’s what everybody says about me,” Hagg says. “Well, I agree with that.”

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
13 CBJ 73 34 35 4 198 228 72
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 75 21 53 7 74
C. Giroux 74 22 46 1 68
W. Simmonds 75 28 22 -5 50
M. Streit 75 9 36 -10 45
B. Schenn 75 14 25 -7 39
S. Couturier 75 13 17 1 30
M. Read 73 7 22 -7 29
M. Del Zotto 57 9 19 -5 28
M. Raffl 60 19 6 6 25
V. Lecavalier 51 7 11 -10 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 15 17 10 .926 2.25
R. Emery 10 10 6 .892 3.15
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