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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

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.”

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
5 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
6 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
7 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
12 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
15 BUF 55 21 28 6 125 151 48
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 53 16 29 -8 45
J. Voracek 53 8 35 -3 43
W. Simmonds 53 20 16 -7 36
B. Schenn 51 15 15 1 30
S. Gostisbehere 35 9 20 4 29
S. Couturier 40 9 15 9 24
M. Read 51 9 9 -5 18
M. Raffl 53 7 7 5 14
S. Laughton 52 4 10 -7 14
M. Del Zotto 51 4 9 -8 13
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 13 14 7 .917 2.65
M. Neuvirth 11 6 2 .933 2.14
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