By Kyle Shohara
After spending his entire career in the Big Apple, Carl Hagelin will experience the comforts and laidback lifestyle Orange County has to offer. The speedy winger was acquired from the New York Rangers along with second-round (59th overall) and sixth-round (179th overall) selections in the 2015 NHL Draft in exchange for Long Beach native Emerson Etem and a second-round (41st overall) pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. It was a farewell to Etem, whom the Ducks drafted late in the first round of the 2010 NHL Draft held in Los Angeles.
Hagelin will part ways with his familiar No. 62 in favor of 26 here in Anaheim, a number last worn by defenseman Danny Syvret in 2011. The 26-year-old joins an ever-growing list of talented Swedes on the Ducks roster, which also includes 21-year-old Hampus Lindholm, 22-year-old Rickard Rakell and 24-year-old Jakob Silfverberg. In fact, Hagelin and Silfverberg helped Sweden capture a silver medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Hagelin admitted he was “shocked” when he was made aware of the trade while back in his native Sweden.
“You’re not expecting to get traded, but if there was a team I could pick to get traded to, it would be the Anaheim Ducks,” he said during a conference call shortly after the trade was completed. “It’s a great organization and they have a great team. It’s a good place to be. I’m excited that Anaheim was the team that traded for me.”
Ducks Executive Vice President & General Manager Bob Murray said the deal came together rather quickly on the draft floor over the course of two days. “The Rangers were right beside us. I asked [Glen Sather] what he was doing, and he mentioned that name,” Murray said. “My ears perked up a little bit. We could use that speed and tenacity, and the way he plays.”
Known for his speed and prowess on the penalty kill, Hagelin was one of three Rangers to appear in all 82 games last season. With 17 goals, 35 points and a +18 rating, the Sodertalje, Sweden native ranked tied for third among team leaders in game-winning goals (4), tied for second in even-strength goals (16) and second in shots on goal (185). The 6-0, 186-pound winger set career highs in games and shots, and matched a career best in goals in 2014-15.
In terms of scoring, Hagelin’s highest point total was achieved during his 2011-12 rookie campaign, when he posted a 14-goal, 38-point effort in 64 games. “I played a lot in the top-six and produced even though I didn’t have any power-play time,” he said, looking back on his early years with the Rangers. “I have a pretty good offensive upside, but it’s not my job to decide if I’m playing on the first, second, third or fourth line. At the same time, I put up pretty good points for not playing on extremely offensive lines. I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”
Although training camp and preseason are still a few months away, the thought of Hagelin returning to his top-six roots isn’t farfetched. His strong two-way play could be a fit on left wing alongside Ryan Kesler and Silfverberg, a duo which found chemistry with Matt Beleskey (who signed with Boston via free agency) during the regular season and throughout the playoffs. Or perhaps Hagelin gets a shot on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Hagelin isn’t just limited to playing left wing, as noted by Murray, who says he can play either wing if necessary.
“Whatever chance I get with the Ducks, I’m ready for it,” said Hagelin. “But at the same time, I’ve always been a player who puts the team first. Whether that’s blocking shots on the PK or putting up points offensively. I’m 26 years old, turning 27 soon, so I’m hoping this year or next year I’m a top-six forward again.”
Hagelin’s overtime goal in Game 5 of the First Round sent the Pittsburgh Penguins packing and Rangers fans into a state of exultation when his wrist shot beat Marc-Andre Fleury short-side at the 9:08 mark of sudden death. Following the series victory, the Rangers went the distance in the Second Round vs. Washington, eliminating the Capitals in seven games before falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning on home ice in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.
Hagelin has made four consecutive trips to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, recording 12 goals and 26 points with 39 penalty minutes in 73 games.