Flyers Resign Robert Hagg
The final part of the Flyers offseason is now complete.
Late Wednesday night the Flyers announced that defenseman Robert Hagg had been resigned to a 2-year contract for a total of $2.3 million, an average annual value (AAV) of $1.15 million.
Hagg's rookie season really depends on what kind of hockey fan you are. Old-school fans will cite the defenseman's steady play in his own zone, earning him a second-pair time and even a brief first-pair stint with Ivan Provorov, as well as his status as the NHL leader in hits until he was injured for a few weeks in early March.
However, fans who value analytics (like myself) see a different picture. Hagg for his poor underlying metrics - he finished the year with Corsi and xG ratings (which measure the shot battle and quality of shots while a player is on the ice, respectively) below 50%, meaning the Flyers were outshot and outchanced while he was on the ice. His controlled entry and exit rates were near the bottom amongst Flyers defensemen, a further testament of his passive style. For a defensive defenseman like Hagg, who only scored 3 goals and 9 points in 70 games and not at all in 2 playoff contests, there doesn't seem to be a ton of value in a player with those numbers.
The good news is that there's still plenty of time for growth, and getting any value out of Hagg after he looked like a for sure bust following a dismal first pro season with the Phantoms in 2015-16 is a win. Hagg's ceiling is likely no higher than a #4, and on a good team he'll most likely be secluded to a third-pairing role. But the floor seems to be NHL defenseman at worst. Watching pretty much every game this year, I didn't think Hagg was stellar by any means, but also not as bad as his advanced metrics suggest. In order for Hagg to take the next step and establish himself as a full-time, productive NHLer (not one that only gets playing time because he plays a passive style that coaches seem to love), he'll need to be much better with the puck, especially in the defensive and neutral zone, and also improve his penalty killing (something the Flyers could desperately use). Those will take time, but they are certaintly manageable goals for Hagg to reach.
I have to admit, $1.15 million is a good price for Hagg. I would have thought he would have gotten somewhere between $1.5 - 2 million for sure, so it was nice to see Hextall get Hagg at a team friendly price (although with the Flyers cap situation they could've given him Tom Wilson money and still been ok). When this deal is done, Hagg's future as a NHLer will likely be set in stone. I'm looking forward to seeing him and the rest of the Flyers young core reunite when training camp begins about a month, which is about a month later than we all wish it did.
(Advanced stats mentioned courtsey of Corey Sznajder at https://theenergyline.wordpress.com/about-this-blog/)