In his 10-year career, Niklas Hagman
has not faced any other team in the NHL more than the Anaheim Ducks. Tuesday morning was his first chance to see what it was like to be one of them, as he skated with the Ducks at practice for the first time since being claimed off waivers from Calgary yesterday.
|“I’m happy to be here,” said Hagman, who will wear No. 12 with the Ducks. “I need a little bit of a fresh start for my career. It’s a good place to come. I’ll do whatever they want me to do to help the team.” |
The 31-year-old Finn has played well in his 33 career games against Anaheim, scoring 14 goals and 18 points (both are personal highs against one team). Hagman’s eight goals and 10 points at Honda Center are the most he has registered in a building that wasn’t his team’s home arena. One of his two career hat tricks came in Anaheim, as a member of the Maple Leafs on Oct. 26, 2009.
“I’m happy to be here,” said Hagman, who will wear No. 12 with the Ducks. “I was trying to do everything I could to make things work (in Calgary). Now, it’s in the past and I’m moving forward. I need a little bit of a fresh start for my career. It’s a good place to come. I’ll do whatever they want me to do to help the team.”
Anaheim, last in the league in goals per game (2.00), is still itching for scoring in 2011-12. They hope Hagman can help provide some offensive punch, as he has been able to do during his four other stops around the league (Florida, Dallas, Toronto, Calgary). For three straight seasons from 2007-10, he posted at least 22 goals (career-high 27 in 2007-08) and 41 points (career-high 44 in 2009-10).
A left wing, Hagman will initially get his shot on the third line with the Ducks. He was slotted there during Tuesday’s practice at Honda Center, alongside Brandon McMillan
and Devante Smith-Pelly
. Before he can get into the lineup for the first time though, he has to secure a work visa. In the meantime, he can continue to practice with Anaheim.
“We think that he can be a fit with our group with his work ethic and his commitment to playing the game in those dirty areas,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. “He’s tenacious, competitive and gets on the puck. That is what we’re looking for. That is something that I think comes natural to him. He has had success scoring goals in the league. Right now, we are starved for goals. Hopefully, he can make a contribution in that area.”
|“I was just relieved I got into a new environment and am getting a chance to play,” Hagman said. “This way I can show that I can play and should be in this league. Anaheim has played 17 games, so there are a lot of games left. Hopefully, I’ll get in quick and do what I can to help the team.” |
Hagman saw many familiar faces upon entering the locker room for the first time today. There are of course three other Finns on the team in Teemu Selanne
, Saku Koivu
and Toni Lydman
. All four have played together several times in international play for Finland, including the country’s bronze-medal performance at the 2010 Olympics. He has also been a teammate of Francois Beauchmein and Jason Blake
in Toronto, Dan Ellis
in Dallas and Jonas Hiller
with HC Davos during the 2004-05 lockout.
“He’s got great speed and good hands,” said Lydman. “I think he can add to this offense for sure. He’s going to get a chance here and then it’s up to him. We’ll see what happens. He certainly has the tools.”
To get his visa paperwork done, Hagman will have to visit a U.S. consulate in Canada in the coming days and then re-enter the United States. He is eager for that to be complete, so he can get back on the ice and start contributing to the Ducks.
“I was just relieved I got into a new environment and am getting a chance to play,” Hagman said. “This way I can show that I can play and should be in this league. Anaheim has played 17 games, so there are a lot of games left. Hopefully, I’ll get in quick and do what I can to help the team.”
(flu) did not participate in Tuesday’s practice, while Dan Ellis
(sore groin) left the ice early at Honda Center. George Parros
(eye surgery) skated in practice with a visor on, but he has not been cleared for contact. Ben Maxwell, claimed off waivers from Winnipeg last Thursday, will fly into town tonight and join the team for practice tomorrow.