He was once one of the villains that was responsible for ending the Washington Capitals’ seasons. Now Carl Hagelin has donned the red sweater, looking to help the Capitals defend their Stanley Cup.
When the Washington Capitals traded for Carl Hagelin less than a week before the trade deadline, they were looking to add an experienced left winger to help them try to acheive the ultimate goal this spring. With a tough remaining regular season schedule, Hagelin has made a seemless transition and helped the Capitals win seven in a row heading into a big Tuesday night matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins which happen to be Hagelin’s former team.
Hagelin was drafted in 2007 by the New York Rangers in the sixth round, 168th overall. He made his NHL debut in the 2011-12 season where the Rangers beat the Capitals in seven games. Since that meeting, Hagelin has seen the Capitals in the spring in every season except 2013-14 when Washington missed the playoffs. He’s met Washington five times in the second round and once in the first round.
Hagelin was also a member of the Penguins, a team that beat the Capitals in the second round in 2016 and 17. He has been to the Stanley Cup Finals three times, once with the Rangers in 2013-14 where they fell to the Los Angeles Kings and twice with the Penguins Cup-winning teams where they bested the San Jose Sharks and the Nashville Predators.
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Hagelin was finally on the other side of the handshake line last spring when the Capitals ended Pittsburgh’s season in Game 6 in overtime thanks to Evgeny Kuznetsov. He then returned to the Penguins to begin the 2018-19 season only to see him get traded to the Los Angeles Kings for Tanner Pearson.
Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan, the team, and the fans knew Hagelin all too well and an opportunity arose in February before the trade deadline to acquire him. The Capitals first cleared cap space by waiving Devante Smith-Pelly where he cleared to Hershey, then traded a 2019 third rounder and a conditional sixth round pick in 2020 to the Kings for Hagelin.
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Hagelin brought some speed to the equation and helped strengthen a Capitals penalty kill that had been struggling all season. The Capitals allowed 44 power play goals in 206 times on the kill through their first 61 games of the season prior to Hagelin’s arrivial. Coincedentially, his Capitals debut came in their 62nd game which is also his jersey number.
In Hagelin’s seven games with the Capitals, the team has allowed just three opposing power play goals on 25 chances. That my friends is a success rate of 88%. In Washington’s last four games (all wins), their penalty kill has stopped all 11 opposing power plays. These numbers were compiled via Hockey Reference.
Hagelin has adapted well with his new teammates no matter what line he’s been placed on. He started out on the fourth line but was switched in the Islanders game on March 1 with Andre Burakovsky. The former moved up to the third line while the latter dropped to the fourth line but it seemed to be like a promotion for both parties. Burakovsky had three straight games with a goal. Hagelin was simply all over the place Sunday night.
Hagelin had two penalties but redeemed himself after one of them. Once they got the kill, Hagelin flew out of the box and caught a perfect backhanded pass from Nic Dowd to bury a breakway through the five-hole of Connor Hellebuyck to give the Capitals a 2-1 lead that simply brought down the house.
“You always have a dream that it might land on your stick and today was one of those days,” said Hagelin.
Hagelin also said after the game that he’s really develped great chemistry with his linemates during games as opposed to practices. That doesn’t make to say practice doesn’t make perfect.
“I think it’s just being out there with the guys in games is when you really learn. Practice is always practice, you go hard and you try your best, but in games that’s when you get that chemistry with your linemates”
“I think it’s just being out there with the guys in games is when you really learn. Practice is always practice, you go hard and you try your best, but in games that’s when you get that chemistry with your linemates,” Hagelin told the media.
Hagelin has pretty much seen it all. From Gotham, to the Steel City, to Disneyland, to Hollywood and now to Nation’s Capital. All of the reasons that Capitals fans had disliked him are now reasons on why he is now beloved in Washington. It’ll be interesting to see what he’ll do in the playoffs.