June 28 2013 07:52AM
It's been a couple of years since Tim Erixon slapped every Flames fan right square in the face by refusing to sign with the club, so hopefully those wounds have healed because Calgary's pick at 22 seems to be lined up with a guy who could very well be Erixon 2.0. That is, without the betrayal, heartache and venomous hatred.
His name is Robert Hagg and like Erixon, he's a strapping young Swedish defensemen that seems to do everything right - no real visible weaknesses. Hopefully, unlike Erixon, if selected by Calgary, Hagg won't break our hearts and end up in Columbus.
All Erixon jokes aside, the two bear a striking resemblance to each other on the ice and I'm sure - although unwilling to admit it - Flames faithful would love to have a guy like that in the system. The possibility of Hagg being available and 22 and Calgary taking him is very real, as a calm, responsible, puck moving defensemen is something the Flames definitely yearn for and Hagg fits the bill in every respect. Also, considering the 6th pick is almost a guarantee to be a forward, picking a defensemen with one or both of the later first rounder's makes sense.
Hockey Prospectus' Corey Pronman has Hagg ranked 21st and said this about him:
Hagg is a really gifted defenseman who progressed as the season went on, going from the junior league to playing in the SEL although his performance was up and down throughout the campaign. Hagg has a real easiness to his game. He is a high-end skater, possessing an effortless stride and quick acceleration. He appears to glide when he is on the ice, with a high amount of offensive ability. He makes quality rushes, and he displays great puck movement in every zone. He is not a flashy puck handler, but he has good subtle hands, with the ability to make open ice maneuvers. He has a big shot from the point, and several NHL sources indicate that he frequently relies on that asset.
Scouts are divided on Hagg's defensive play. One thinks it is his best asset, while another calls him a very well-rounded player, and yet others say his defense needs work. From my assessment, I do not think he is an exceptional defensive player. He is quality in his own end, but he does make the odd bad decision here and there. Still, there is a lot to like about Hagg. He has a great hockey brain, mobility, and solid physicality. The phrase "great hockey brain" basically means "great Hockey IQ" which seems to instantly make the Flames scouting staff drool.Future Considerations has Hagg ranked 24th and are very quick to point to Hagg's skating as his lead attribute. It's not necessarily his first steps or top speed but rather the fluidity of his skating that makes it so impressive. His ability to twist and turn out of traffic and elude opponents rather than blow by them.Hagg's offensive skills are somewhat under the radar, if you will. Nothing too spectacular, won't get you out of your seat, but gets business done. While he sometimes shies away from the physical game, Hagg's six foot two, 205 pound frame allows him to partake in it whenever he pleases. In fact, his lack of physical play at times has been cited by scouts as a chief weakness of his despite his decent size.
Hagg played in the SEL this season and his numbers are pretty easy to wrap your head around: 27 games, one assist. So let's skip the fraction of an NHLE and look past the number(s). Hagg played in the SEL (which is actually officially called the SHL now) which is Sweden's top men's league and much like the NHL, rarely sees teenagers - let alone teenage defensemen - play in it for extended periods of time. In fact, only two players ranked in the Top 60 of nearly any draft ranking I've seen other than Hagg played in the SEL this year (one being potential 6th overall pick Elias Lindholm).
That said, Hagg wasn't logging big minutes or anything, which explains his lack of output. His per game ice time was only about 7 minutes according to the SEL official website. The 18 year old also spent part of the season on MODO's under-20 Superelit (aka, "junior" team) where he scored a much more respectable 11goals and 24 points in just 28 games. Expect Hagg to be much more central to the parent club's rotation next season.
Hagg's quick, puck moving game appears to fit the direction the Flames are taking like a glove. I assume that once the rebuild matures in a few years, this will be a fast club, whose strength lies in puck movement and transition. TJ Brodie is nice, but they need another true quarterback to distribute the puck efficiently and take the shot when necessary. Hagg fits the bill in every respect.
If you haven't noticed, I like Hagg. A lot. He'd be an excellent pick up at 22; a brilliant one at 28. Not only would he instantly become