Interpreting talent or impact can be viewed through numerous different lenses. The easiest yet sometimes simplest, if not lazy, measuring stick of a player would be their stat sheet. There are some exceptions to that rule though, and Carl Hagelin is 1 that fits that mold. Carl Hagelin has been just as important to the Pittsburgh Penguins as almost anyone else on the team.
During his time here (like a season and a half now), Hagelin has helped reshape the identity play of the Penguins into an absolute race track of speed out there on the ice. Teams now try to imitate the Penguins style and Hagelin is in part responsible for that because of how he causes teams to be on their heels. Yes, he hasn’t scored a goal since January, but all the little things he does for sure is equally beneficial.
It’s even the common plays that Hagelin does to help the team that is so important. I’ve lost count on the number of times he has prevented an icing call going the other way or forced an opponents d-man to not jump in on a play because they know if he breaks this up Hagelin is going down alone on the other end. He obviously is a fantastic penalty killer, but he also creates chaotic chances on offense, it could be stealing the puck in the zone and setting up teammate Nick Bonino or just as necessary as keeping a long shift continuing.
Hagelin’s speed is spectrally transcendental, and my favorite thing about that is his ability to force those he’s going after to think quicker than they can move, which acquiesces into turnovers in the Penguins favor. The Penguins have been made quicker, it started with grabbing Hagelin and bringing up Connor Sheary, the rest followed.
Growing up a Penguins fan living in New York before this wonderful thing called NHL Center Ice and NHL TV was attainably at my disposal, I hated Carl Hagelin on the New York Rangers. It was only because he was so quick and I saw how much he affected the game, I hated him because of how nice of player he was for a rival team. To quote Vince Vaughn’s character Wes Mantooth when he talks to Ron Burgundy in Anchorman “Deep down in my stomach, with every inch of me, I pure straight hate you, but dammit do I respect you.” Now I love the player, can’t get enough of it! He was always 1 of those players that you love him when he’s on your team but hate him when he’s not.
That’s why I was so happy when the Penguins acquired him from the Anaheim Ducks, I knew how great he was gonna be for this team, he’s exceeded every expectation. Has his numbers been down a little? Yeah, Will he miss some breakaways at time? Yes just like the other night against the Winnipeg Jets, but Hagelins speed will always constantly get him a myriad of more attempts than others.
Just like every other player, he will find his scoring touch once again, he still is on the ice plenty of times when the teams scores, he just may not get awarded the point for it. Let him line up with Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby to skate laps around opponents or kill off penalties with Bonino and give the Pens back some momentum. That’s his game though, Carl Hagelin doesn’t need the stats to positively affect the Penguins, he’s needed no matter what the case is in all different avenues, you wanna have him out there and that will continue down this stretch.