The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October.
In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Taryn Hatcher, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances.
Today we will be looking at Robert Hagg.
Hagg is the type of player you always want to see succeed — mostly in part to how much his teammates respect him. In previous years, he was often the scapegoat when it came to putting blame on effort at the blue line. In the modern league, the NHL is fast paced and always looking for ways to be flashy offensively. Hagg doesn’t necessarily fit that bill, but that doesn’t mean he’s a poor player; just different.
A good game is when Hagg is nearly invisible — aside from a few hard hits — because he’s doing what he does best, holding down the fort. No. 8 led the Flyers in hits (136) and registered 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in only 49 games. More so, he’ll defend any one of his teammates by dropping the gloves if he has to, with a smile on his face, of course.
For stepping up and doing exactly what he needed to do this season, Hagg gets a B.
Hagg impressed a lot of fans this season — he impressed me too.
Considering how much the defensive group as a whole improved, Hagg had a lot to do with it. He was in the mix of the bottom pair all season, always trying to hold his spot in the lineup. That healthy competition brought out the best in him.
From the third tilt of the season when he recorded five blocks alone in a single game, to his highest-ever plus-14 in 49 games, Hagg’s skill, physical play and competitive style helped him take control of the sixth defenseman role.
This past regular season was one of the 25-year-old’s best in his four years in Philadelphia.
Hagg = A.
Hagg was another sneaky important player for the Flyers this season. When injuries on the blue line could’ve had a real negative impact on the Flyers, Hagg was one of the guys who picked up some of the slack. He was often in a three-way competition with Philippe Myers and Shayne Gostisbehere for ice time, and he handled it like a pro.
He was able to jump right in and contribute 13 points in 49 games played, while registering an impressive plus-14 rating. Not to mention the guy eats shots. He led the team in shots blocked per 60 minutes. In limited games and limited ice time this season, he’s registered 70 blocked shots.
He’s steady. He’s what they needed.
I give him a nice, solid B.
Hagg’s season has been a little mysterious. He played just 49 of the 69 games the Flyers played and has been in and out of the lineup, much of that based on Gostisbehere’s play and/or availability. It’s hard to figure out why that is. From my perspective, Hagg plays a nice stay-at-home game, is a great hitter and smart defenseman.
What’s lacking with Hagg is the offensive threat, which may be why he was in and out of the lineup. When Gostisbehere is at his best, he puts pressure on the opposition's defense with his offensive skill. That kind of threat doesn’t really exist when it comes to Hagg. The decision between Ghost and Hagg will surely be one to watch as the NHL returns to play. To Hagg’s credit, in the 49 games he played this season he was a plus-14, which was good for third among defensemen on the Flyers behind only Myers and Matt Niskanen.
Overall, I give Hagg a B.
Hagg was considered by many (including this reporter himself) to be the Flyers' obvious extra defenseman entering training camp and the preseason.
He ended up playing 49 of the Flyers' 69 games, finished as a plus-14 and was first on the team in blocked shots per 60 minutes with 6.20.
“He brings a lot to this team, plays the right way defensively and he’s there to block every shot he can," Kevin Hayes said in March. "We have a couple guys like that on our back end. It’s a stat that no one really cares about, but it goes a long way within this group. We know how important he is to this team. I mean, he’s a great guy, too, so it makes it that much better."
Post-Christmas, Hagg was one of the Flyers' better blueliners. Since Dec. 28, the team's first game after the holiday break, the 25-year-old Hagg notched 10 points (three goals, seven assists), led Flyers defensemen with a plus-17 mark and recorded more even strength points (nine) than Ivan Provorov (eight) and Myers (five).
Making his way into the lineup and then facing the pressure of sticking in it, Hagg deserves a strong B+ for his regular season and welcoming his role.
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