When the Rangers dealt Carl Hagelin to the Ducks at last year’s NHL Draft, they probably didn’t expect him to wind up back in the division on a rival chasing them. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. Less than a year into a four-year contract that pays him $16 million, he was traded by Anaheim this morning to Pittsburgh in exchange for David Perron and Adam Clendening.
Hagelin is a now a Pen. Hard to fathom. It didn’t work out in Anaheim. In only 43 games, he had four goals and eight assists totaling 12 points with 14 penalty minutes and a minus-1o rating. Interestingly, four of those points came in his last four games. After recording a goal and helper in a win over Ottawa, he tallied an assist in another win over Dallas. Just as he may have been figuring it out under Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, he goes to the Pens where he’ll be coached by former Rangers assistant Mike Sullivan. Someone who knows what he brings.
It’s probably a better fit. The speedy Hagelin improves the Pens’ depth. He is a great skater and strong possession player who plays both ends. A solid penalty killer, the 27-year old Swede should make some new fans in the Steel City. The ironic part is he ended their season last Spring when he beat Marc-Andre Fleury in the first overtime of Game 5 in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal (Metro Division Semifinal). I’m sure there will be some teasing from his new teammates which includes captain Sidney Crosby.
Hagelin in a Pens jersey is kinda sickening. It’s like a nightmare for Blueshirt fans. A guy we loved now plays for the enemy on a team we love to hate. Oddly enough, the teams have yet to face each other this season. They’ll meet four times in February and March. The Rangers visit the Pens next month on Feb. 10. They also visit Pittsburgh on Mar. 5. Having already returned with the Ducks to MSG on Dec. 22, Hagelin will return again as a Pen on 3/13 and 3/27.
With Crosby and the Pens playing better, those four games will be huge. They trail the Blueshirts by four points for third place in the division. If anything, having Hagelin will only spice up the rivalry. The thing is he’s an impossible player to hate. I won’t boo him. Those who do will if he scores against us.