Originally selected by the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round (41st overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft, 25-year-old defenseman Robert Hägg is now in his third full NHL season and sixth full North American pro season since coming over from Sweden as a 19-year-old. A potential restricted free agent in the off-season, his current contract carries a $1.15 million AAV.
This season, Hägg has dressed in 49 of the 69 games the Flyers have played. He has chipped in 13 points (3g, 10a) and posted a +14 traditional plus-minus rating. Prior the NHL schedule pause, he started 25 of the last 26 games for Alain Vigneault's club.
Earlier in the season, for the first time in his NHL career, Hägg was relegated to a seventh defenseman's role for the first time in his NHL career. More recently, he has returned to being a regular starter, typically teamed on the team's third pairing with Justin Braun. During junctures of the season when rookie Phil Myers was not in the Flyers' lineup, Hägg saw time paired with Shayne Gostisbehere (a frequent partner in the first half of Hägg's rookie NHL season of 2017-18).
Last season, under Dave Hakstol and Scott Gordon (his former AHL head coach with the Phantoms), Hägg started all 82 games. As a rookie under Hakstol in 2017-18, Hägg started each of the first 68 games of the season before missing 12 of the final 14.
Hägg's niche as an NHL player is as a physical defender who will also sacrifice his own body to block shots and see penalty killing duties. His primary value is off-puck tenacity rather than as a puck mover, but has worked to improve upon his puck retrievals and passing. He has a decent shot and will periodically make aggressive pinches in the offensive zone, but that is not a regular part of his game.
Hägg is a good example of a player remaking elements of his game to find a role in the NHL At the time Hägg was drafted, he was projected as an all-situations defenseman including power play duty (International Scouting Services ranked him third in his draft class in the "offense from the blueline" category in their 2013 Draft Preview). The Swede saw regular power play in the first half of his American Hockey League rookie season in 2014-15. As his pre-NHL career progressed, however, it was not until he significantly simplified his game that he emerged as a viable candidate to earn a spot in the National Hockey League.
FIVE KEY FACTS
1) Hägg has been credited with 136 hits this season, leading all Flyers players.
2) With 79 blocked shots this season, Hägg is tied for fourth on the team overall but leads the team in blocks relative to his ice time with 6.20 blocks per 60 minutes played.
3) Hägg has averaged 1:06 of penalty killing ice time per game this season; fifth among Flyers' defensemen. He has averaged 14:26 of even strength time and 22.2 total shifts per game.
4) From Jan. 7 to 15, Hägg posted a point in four of five games (1g, 3a). He scored goals in back-to-back games on Feb. 11 and 13.
5) Hägg logged a season-high 19:46 of ice time (24 shifts, four hits, one blocked shot) in the team's 4-3 overtime win in Columbus on Feb. 24. He recorded a season-high five shots on goal in a 5-2 road win in Washington on March 4.
1) Jan 8 vs WSH (19:18, 1st period): Hägg's left point slap shot tied the game at 2-2 late in the first period. The Flyers went on to earn a 3-2 home win. Many cite this game as the Flyers' take-off point in the second half of the season. The win came on the heels of a 1-4-1 road trip.
3) Feb 13 @ FLA (19:32, 3rd period): With the Flyers already ahead, 5-2, late in the game, Vigneault rewarded Hägg and other role players with some rare power play ice time. The defenseman cashed it in by skating into the slot and finding the net. It was the first power play goal (11th overall tally) of his NHL career, and the first time he scored goals in back-to-back games.
THEY SAID IT
"When Hagger is in the lineup, he brings grit to our back end. He's one of our most solid defenders. He does a great job job getting in the lanes, blocking shots and clearing some of the traffic. He lays it on the line every night."
-- Carter Hart, Jan. 15, 2020.
HE SAID IT
"All I can do is play as good as I can when I get the chances. And that's what I've been doing."
-- Robert Hägg, Feb. 6, 2020.