Tag Archives: Carl Hagelin

Who is Derick Brassard?

Derick Brassard has been the subject of a number of rumors that have linked him to the Penguins, the Blue Jackets and several other teams, and those rumors were reignited when Brassard missed practice today with a ‘maintenance day’:

Given that the roster freeze is now over, it’s time to dive into who Brassard is and what kind of fit he’d be with the Penguins.

Brassard is a 30 year old 6’1″, 205 pound center whose contract expires in 2019 and carries a cap hit of $5 million AAV. Regularly deployed as a 2nd line center, Brassard averages 0.6 points per game in the NHL and is currently in the midst of a 9 goal, 14 assist in 35 game season for the Ottawa Senators. While Brassard does not have an extended history of killing penalties for any team he’s been on, he’s been a strong defensive presence as a center for Ottawa as he possess an incredibly strong 5.24relCF% and a 6.09relxGF%, so possess the abilities required to translate over and play some PK. Brassard also holds an admirable playoff record, where he has produced 0.71 points per game in the NHL and Mike Sullivan has a brief history of coaching him as Sullivan served as an assistant coach for 25 games Brassard played in New York. He’d fill the Penguins 3C role and likely use his applicable defensive skills to be worked into the penalty kill rotation.

The issue with Brassard is the salary cap. As he holds a $5 million dollar a year contract, the Penguins will have to dump significant salary in order to fit his deal under the current. A player like Carl Hagelin will have to be moved to fit Brassard into the cap, but moving Hagelin is difficult due to his salary compared to his production.

It remains to be seen if this will be who the Penguins target for their 3C position, but if they manage to make it work, this would be a considerable upgrade on Nick Bonino of last year and certainly over Riley Sheahan this year. Below is a highlight video put together by a Rangers player after he got traded to Ottawa:

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Should We Expect More From the Bottom Six?

The Penguins have had one of the better bottom six forward groups in the league for the past two years. This year’s bottom six is not that.

Let’s just state the obvious, this bottom six could use some work.

Losing Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen definitely takes a hit on your center depth chart. They also lost the occasional fourth line Chris Kunitz but I’m fine with Ryan Reaves taking his place as far as physicality goes.

Yes, they did acquire center Riley Sheahan from Detroit (see my article on that) but he’s not Bonino or Cullen. I’m not saying that these guys are awful, but should we expect more from them?

Let’s just look at the third line center position for the last couple of years starting with Brandon Sutter. Sutter’s tenure with the Penguins was from 2012 to 2015. Every year he was the third line center and surpassed 10 goals each year. He wasn’t fantastic but he was good enough to make a difference even while being in that bottom six.

After that there was Bonino who centered the third line for two seasons in Pittsburgh from 2015 to 2017. Bonino didn’t score a lot of goals but had over 20 points both seasons. Other than the drop off at center, the wingers are either the same or have been in the system like Tom Kuhnhackl, Bryan Rust, Carter Rowney and Carl Hagelin. If it feels like we should be seeing more from these players, it’s because we’re used to a higher standard of offense in Pittsburgh.

We’ve had two of the best players in the world in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Not to mention American hero Phil Kessel on the wing. So this bottom six isn’t exactly a spitting image of last year’s, but they still produce opportunities and really their job is more of a shut down defensive style of game but scoring would help from time to time.

Also a side note: Prayers to Ryan Shazier.

Pens On Verge of Offensive Outbreak

The Penguins can only not be the Penguins for so long.  They’ve surprisingly had struggles scoring goals all season, especially at even strength.  They rank 19th in the NHL in goals per game, which is very un-Penguin-like.

Well you are witnessing the end of the offensive drought.  The Penguins are back.

The Penguins have scored 5 goals in each of their last 2 games, which is a small sample size, but it has significance:

The first of these 2 games came against the Tampa Bay Lightning, arguably the hottest team in hockey along with St. Louis.  Although their starting goaltender, Andrei Vasileskiy, was not manning the crease for the Lightning, the Penguins were starting their backup, Tristan Jarry, in the tail-end of a back-to-back scenario.  The Penguins not only won this game, but put an exclamation point on the win.  They were clearly the better team throughout the game, and it showed on the scoreboard.

The second of these 2 games was against the Philadelphia Flyers who, despite not having a great season thus far, always show up against the Penguins.  In addition, they unfortunately own the Penguins at Consol/PPG Paints, so a win was far from automatic.  Not only did the Penguins score 5 goals in this game, but they battled back on multiple occasions by erasing 3-1 and 4-3 deficits.

The defense absolutely still needs improvement.  They have been over-aggressive in the offensive zone and thus allowing opponents to have way too many odd-man chances.  That said, their offense is starting to show signs of life.  More importantly, the scorers are starting to score, and the Penguins are beginning to get some scoring from their depth guys:

After a rough start, Bryan Rust has looked fantastic in his past couple of games and has netted a couple of goals as a reward for his play.  I thought the line of him, Carter Rowney, and Carl Hagelin played extremely well against the Flyers.  They had multiple extended shifts and kept Philly pinned in their own end.

Jake Guentzel has 7 goals in his last 8 games, confirming that he is a pure goal-scorer when he is on his game. Guentzel had a rough start to the season, but he is starting to find his groove and regaining his confidence going into early December. Look for Guentzel to continue what he has been doing his past few games.

Phil Kessel has been straight up unbelievable.  He is tied for 4th in the NHL in points, and he leads the Penguins in every offensive category.  He is having an MVP-caliber season if he continues his play.  He has become the cornerstone of the Penguins power play, and has found his scoring touch as well.

Remember when Sidney Crosby died?  Again?  Yeah, he’s fine.  Dominating Philly, scoring OT winners, and scoring 9 points in his last 4 games, including 6 in his last 2.  He is going to be okay, and now that he has found his game, look out.  Remember what happened last time Crosby fell off the face of the earth?  It just might happen again…

Oh, and not to mention, the Penguins have scored 5 in their past 2 games without Evgeni Malkin, who will hopefully be back soon.

The Penguins are now done with the most difficult part of their schedule.  They play Buffalo in a home-and-home series this coming weekend which leads into a 5 game homestand.

The Penguins are on the verge of an offensive outbreak: it starts now.

Is It Time to Trade Carl Hagelin?

The Penguins boast a collection of skaters on their team that could hold their own in any dead sprint on the ice. Carl Hagelin might be the fastest skater the Penguins have, and it’s a wonderful asset, but with his lack of production, you may begin to wonder if he could be used as a valuable trade piece to bring in more production.

Hagelin was originally brought to Pittsburgh by Jim Rutherford in the 2015-2016 season to upgrade the bottom-six’s overall production, and Hagelin later became a member of the infamous “HBK” line with Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel. No doubt, the line was a huge part in the 2016 Stanley Cup run, but the magic didn’t carry on to the following season.

Since that time, head coach Mike Sullivan has moved Hagelin up and down the lineup playing on just about every line. Granted, that shows his versatility and how his skill set can translate between a scoring line or checking line. What is alarming about Hagelin is the lack of production on the scoresheet on a team that is built to rely on all four lines to produce.

Now, Sidney Crosby has gone through a scoring drought himself this season, but no one sane would think about trading arguably the best player in the world. Given his track record, you would rely on Crosby to eventually figure it out. With Hagelin, the track record isn’t there, and with there being no one he has any great chemistry with, you begin to wonder if Hagelin hurts the team more than he helps it.

When Hagelin was traded to Pittsburgh in 2015-2016, he registered 10 goals and 17 assists in 37 games with the Penguins. In 61 games in 2016-2017, he only put up six goals and 16 assists. This season has been significantly worse, tallying only one goal and two assists in 21 games.

To really put things into perspective, Hagelin is making $4 million per season, and is under contract through the 2018-2019 season. Hagelin is a fine player to have on your team and can be a great asset as his speed is nearly second to none and he can kill penalties, but for $4 million on a team that needs production, the offensive stats just aren’t there.

In no way am I stating that he should be run out of town, but if I’m Jim Rutherford and the right deal comes along and Hagelin’s got to go, I’m not hesitating at pulling the trigger.

What To Do With Carl Hagelin

Over the past couple of games, I’ve noticed that Carl Hagelin seems to be skating much better than he had in the playoffs last year. Of course, he dealt with an injured foot and couldn’t maximize his skating ability. In turn, this led to a lackluster two points in the playoffs. One of them was the empty netter that gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead late in game six of the Stanley Cup Finals.

This season, he has struggled to get on the score sheet. He’s got two points in 13 games and has played mostly third line minutes. As recently as Sunday night, he played with Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist. Both of those guys are ones who he has played with before. He has also played with Phil Kessel and Riley Sheahan at various points of the season.

The Penguins have obvious issues scoring 5-on-5 goals this season and Hagelin’s career high in goals is 17. That’s not bad for a top-9 forward. The issue is the lack of scoring he showed last season has leaked into this season. It’s not just him, it is a team-wide concern. In fact, it is so bad that the Penguins actually have the league’s worst 5-on-5 differential.

Hagelin is far from the culprit but he could find himself in an interesting situation.

Josh Archibald has been dragged through the team’s first 13 games as the press box king. He compares very well to Hagelin in the sense that he can flat out fly on the ice. Archibald has shown flashes of being able to finish at a rate higher than Hagelin has over the past season and into this one. It’s hard to imagine a situation that sees Hagelin sit for Archibald but it isn’t something I would consider out of the realm of possibility.

Another thing to consider is the $4 million cap hit Hagelin carries and the Penguins need of a third line center. These are indirectly related.

Hagelin likely wouldn’t net the Penguins a legitimate third-line center but if the Penguins could shed his cap they’d be in a better spot. They currently have $2 million to spend after the Sheahan trade. Sheahan isn’t a third line center. The Penguins look even less threatening if Malkin or Sidney Crosby sustain an IR-stint type of injury.

Considering the Penguins have Daniel Sprong in the AHL who can seemingly score at will there, they could afford to trade Hagelin for a draft pick to maximize the cap they could shed. Sprong is a right winger whereas Hagelin prefers the left side. Hornqvist could move over to the left to make room for Sprong but usually would prefer to play the right.

I’m all for the fast paced game the Penguins play. They have plenty of speed that they could afford to move a guy like Hagelin and try and shake up the 5-on-5 play by bringing a prolific scoring prospect in Sprong to the NHL. Hagelin has proven he is a streaky player. He was sent to Anaheim after two career high seasons. He struggled there and was acquired by the Penguins for another struggling player in David Perron. He is expendable.

Looking at a team like Vegas who is having a lot of success currently and has a boatload of draft picks, you could give them a guy like Hagelin and insert more speed into their line up and give them a top-9 winger. He would compete with Perron, Jonathan Marchessault, and Erik Haula for minutes but would be an upgrade for a team that has cap room and said before the season that they’d like to be a contending team this year despite losing three goalies to injured reserve already.

Ask them for a third or fourth round pick. Let Hagelin go. Bring up Sprong or someone else that you’re confident can prodcue. Go get your third line center with the $6 million or so that you have. Jim Rutherford has never been shy when it comes to spending to the cap and with his team’s early struggles scoring, this year is even more of a reason to do that.

Offseason Player Grades: Carl Hagelin

2016-17 Regular Season

61 GP, 6 G, 16 A, 22 PTS, +10, 16 PIM

2016-17 Playoffs

15 GP, 2 G, 0 A, 2 PTS, -2, 19 PIM

Player Grade (C-)

This is the worst season Carl Hagelin has ever had, statistically. On top of having his worst ever recorded season, Hagelin made the poor decision to block a shot on March 8 in a game where the Pens were up 6-3. The shot caused him to break his fibula. He then decided to play on his broken leg the next game two days later. He didn’t return until the Washington series and didn’t really show up like we all expected. He was faster than most players on any team, but slower than Carl Hagelin should be. He didn’t really do anything to hurt the team, but he didn’t do much to help it either. If he were able to finish out the regular season, uninjured, his impact on the team would have been much greater. I blame the improper care of the injury for the lack of his production this postseason, which he has also claimed himself, and his inability to step his game up to where it should have been.

Season Review/Preview

Overall, Hagelin didn’t do anything exceptional this season except be fast and have nice hair. He sadly just wasn’t on top of it. One of his highlighting moments, though, was scoring the empty-netter in the Stanley Cup clinching game. For next season, I expect him to have more points per game, as he had .36 points per game for the 2016-17 season. I also expect him to work on getting his speed back up to par. All this is if GMJR decides to keep Hagelin into the 2017-18 season.

What Penguins Would Have Fun Days With Cup?

It’s been 25 days since the Penguins won the Stanley Cup (again) followed by the victory parade and I am riding just as high as I hope many Pens fans still are. I was in attendance at the 2016 parade and had the time of my life for numerous reasons. While I wasn’t able to make it to this years 2017 parade, having some beers later and watching it on tv in celebration  made me feel like I was there once again at the party.

Winning 2 cups in a row, especially in the Salary Cap era, is very difficult to do. So I’m gonna enjoy the hell out of this 1 (again) much like many of the players did during the parade as you probably have seen by now. It got me to thinking, I wonder what some of the players (particularly the younger guys) are doing with their day with the cup?

Certainly everyone is gonna have fun with it, but who would I wanna be hanging with or as their goal song dictates “party hard” with come there day with the Cup?

I’m going to get this outta the way right now, Phil Kessel is always an automatic choice. There’s no need to explain, I love Phil Kessel, you love Phil Kessel, we all love him, we know the folklore about him. This is definitely obvious. It’s like talking about the greatest Yankees of all team, don’t even need to mention Babe Ruth because we all know he’s one of the greatest players of all time, same ruling goes for Kessel.

Jake Guentzel

Unlike many of his teammates, Guentzel was only on the latter of the back to back championships. For this being his 1st time meeting new best friend Stanley, Guentzel looked thrilled the entire time at the parade. He was seen fist pumping and cheering all the way down the route. My favorite part was him talking about what he’s doing with the cup:

“IM GOING BACK TO MINNESOTAAAAAA”. Jake Guentzel was literally a kid in a candy shop, he’s got a shiny new silver toy to play with this summer. Seeing Guentzel with that joy on his face during the whole parade makes me think that won’t stop at all, for me that’s a front row seat worth the price of admission.

Brian Dumoulin

Last year in 2016 we were blessed with this gem:

Than now in 2017 it might have been even better:

Biting open the can with your teeth is such a savage move I can’t help but be a fan of it. I for sure want to be around for what Dumo will do next.

Sidney Crosby:

As if 3 Stanley Cups and 2 Conn Smythe’s and a team parade wasn’t enough already for Sid, he now gets to be treated like a super hero. His hometown of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia Canada loves their home grown kid so much that Crosby gets his own parde in town. Imagine that, a parade for just you, not any teammates, just yourself. I would love to be apart of that and be on 1 of the floats, definitely would be a cool thing to do.

I also think Sid would let loose a little in a place where you can see him behind the scenes. He’s always very calculated and reserved when it comes to doing interviews, it would be fun seeing the other fun side of Crosby.

Olli Maatta

Need I say more?

Carl Hagelin

“Swagelin” as some call him scored the last goal of the Cup Final, a thrilling feeling putting the last nail in your opponents coffin. He also had a rough year because of injury and under production of goal scoring that we normally see from the Swede. In other words, Hagelin could use the 2nd championship to blow off some steam.

He got right to it by joining Crosby at the NHL Awards over in Vegas. Surely Hagelin ripped up the town while he was there as he wasn’t up for any awards, just there hanging with Stanley and Sid in support of his teammate. I’ll hit the black jack tables with Hagelin anytime.

Ron Hainsey

Trade deadline acquisition Ron Hainsey always struck me as kind of similar to that old dad from the movie Project X, or maybe the fun neighbor you might be aware of. He’s the loving, responsible, caring father that he should be to his wife and kids. Then, one night, the young guys a few houses down decide to throw a real awesome party, Hainsey stops by to ask to keep the noise down, next thing you know he’s invited in and getting wild with everyone else, maybe doing some shots or a quick drinking game, having a great time and being one of the last to leave.

That’s how I imagine Hainsey felt as he wasted away his time in Carolina struggling and never making the playoffs (the nice dad who’s kinda boring). Next he’s on the Penguins in the playoffs, having fun, being productive, scoring goals in the Stanley Cup (the crazy dad) slicing through defenders and finally winning that Stanley Cup! Hainsey than dressed up as a catcher and caught the 1st pitch thrown by Sidney Crosby at the Pirates game the next day. It’s been some ride for Hainsey, he can finally relax.

Evgeni Malkin

This really just comes down to the fact that Malkin has always been my favorite player. He’s also the all time playoff points leader in Russia. The reception he probably gets when he brings the Cup back to his town of Magnitogorsk is probably 1 similar to when Steph Curry goes back to Charlotte.

Justin Schultz

I just want to recreate a bunch of the memes that have now went viral of Schutlz walking and chugging. There’s no question he, Maatta, Conor Sheary and Guentzel were the ones really getting after it at the parade, if you know what I mean.

Really you could make a case for any Penguins player on this roster. Back to back, sounds great to say. Raise a glass, a cold one, or the finest bottle of choice for your 2017 Stanley Cup Champs!