Second-round draft picks are usually pretty highly-touted selections by the team and fans alike. While they don’t quite get the hype of a first-rounder, they usually have the skill set of one.
This applies to Philadelphia Flyers 2013 second-round draft pick Robert Hagg. The 6’2″, 204-lb. Swede was one of the first faces of the revamped Flyers prospect corps, and initial expectations were high.
But as Hagg, now 21 years old, has yet to sniff the NHL level for even one game, some have soured on the former top-10 prospect.
*This article also appears on Flyzette.com *
Hagg profiles as a jack-of-all-trades defenseman. He never posted very high scoring numbers in any of his professional years of hockey (although he did snag some power play time in Lehigh Valley last season), never had a plus-minus greater than +4, and never saw top-pairing minutes.
However, those who see Hagg play can see his obvious NHL potential. Contrary to the aforementioned shortcomings, Hagg is a physical defenseman that has the ability to take over games. Yet Hagg’s professional career remains stuck in neutral.
Hagg had a “difficult” year in Lehigh Valley last year, his first full AHL season. He saw some time as a healthy scratch due to his play’s inconsistent nature.
Hagg believes that his up-and-down season had more to do with an early injury rather than an inability to play at the AHL level.
“I think I had a pretty good start of the year, a good camp, and then I got injured right in the beginning. I was out for 4 or 5 weeks.
“When I came back I couldn’t put it together. I don’t know what happened,” Hagg said.
“I had to start all over and talk louder to Kjell (Samuelsson, one of the Phantoms’ Assistant Coaches). He got me through this and I think the last two months I felt like I could get back to it and finish it up.
“It was pretty frustrating. You know what you’re able to do and you can’t get at it.”
Hagg is prepared to leave the past behind this year and come in and turn heads at camp. One of the veterans at Development Camp, Hagg is taking on a leadership role, beginning by teaching the youngsters the importance of punctuality.
“I’m trying to help all the new guys to know where to be, especially be on time,” he said. “I’ve seen guys who haven’t been on time and I don’t recommend it.”
Hagg sees himself this year in much the same situation as one Shayne Gostisbehere was in last year.
“Me and Ghost were pretty much in the same position last year when we got sent back down to Lehigh,” says Hagg.
“Look at Ghost last year, he had unbelievable year. I’m really happy for him. You hope for yourself that you are the next guy to be called up.”
When asked if he feels that he’s “NHL ready”, Hagg was quick to provide a positive reply.
“Absolutely. … I don’t know the time but hopefully I can get a shot this year, that’s my goal for the year.”
Flyers’ General Manager Ron Hextall seems to think that Hagg’s tricky AHL season was good for his development, saying that Hagg “grew a lot” through it all.
While Hagg is almost certain to begin the 2016-17 season with the AHL Phantoms, he knows how important a good camp can be. And in that regard, Hagg has stood out as one of the Flyers’ top defensemen at camp.
Given the way that Hagg stresses being on time, he certainly realizes that he will get the call from the big club only when the time is right.