Carl Hagelin finally signed with his new team agreeing to a four-year deal worth $16 million with the Ducks. After spending the first four seasons of his career with the Rangers, he was dealt to the Ducks for Emerson Etem on June 27. The full trade allowed the Rangers to move up in the 2015 NHL Draft and select Ryan Gropp at number 41. Anaheim traded down and grabbed Julius Nattinen in the second round and Garrett Metcalf in Round 6.
In four years as a Blueshirt, Hagelin became a dependable two-way checking forward who played on the third line and killed penalties. Originally a sixth round pick in 2007 who went 168th overall, the former University Of Michigan standout was a effective player due to his speed and tenacity. After being recalled from Hartford in ’11-12, he posted 14 goals and 24 assists totaling 38 points as a rookie under former Rangers coach John Tortorella helping the club win the Atlantic Division and earn the Eastern Conference’s best record. The 38 points and plus-21 rating remain career bests. The past two seasons under Alain Vigneault, he twice scored 17 goals which is a career high. After playing in all 82 games and tallying 35 points (17-18-35) this past season, he recorded two goals and three assists in the postseason. It was highlighted by this overtime winner which eliminated the Pens in the first round at MSG.
Unfortunately for Hagelin, he became a cap casualty. After earning $2.4 million in the final year of his contract, the 26-year old Swede turned restricted this summer. Due in large part to Derek Stepan who eventually agreed to a six-year $39 million extension, Hagelin was traded to the Ducks. He’ll now make $4 million per season through 2019. Under the cap, that’s the cost of success. Teams are unable to retain key pieces. While Hagelin didn’t do what Brandon Saad did for the Blackhawks, he’ll be missed on Broadway. One of the fastest players in the NHL, he was a good fit in Vigneault’s aggressive system. Now, he’ll likely benefit from playing with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry or Ryan Kesler. Part of a talented core, his production should increase.
It’s understandable why the Rangers traded him. The organization knew they couldn’t afford to pay him. Four million is too much. With talented forwards Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes up next summer, new GM Jim Gorton will turn his attention to getting them done. Hopefully, that means Kreider gets a extension and not a bridge deal which will only cost them more over the long term. He’s the one forward worth locking up. The club is depending on Kreider to fulfill his potential. Capable of 30 goals and 60 points, this is an important year for the former Boston College product. We’ll see if he can deliver. As for Miller and Hayes, their roles will increase. Both will be looked upon for more offense. If the Rangers are to be successful in the future, it hinges on the talented young trio who are all 24 and younger. Kreider is 24 while Miller and Hayes are 22.
They’ll also hope Etem works out. A former 2010 first round pick, he has yet to distinguish himself. However, he scored three goals in the postseason for Anaheim. Signed for one year at less than a million, he’ll have to prove himself under Vigneault and the coaching staff. If he performs, he should play on the third line. If not, maybe Oscar Lindberg replaces him. We’ll find out soon.