Is it Time for the Capitals to Move Carl Hagelin?

Carl Hagelin, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Carl Hagelin, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

Time is up for Carl Hagelin, the 33-year old Swedish left-winger who has spent the last three seasons with the Washington Capitals. Washington’s most effective penalty killer had made himself at home on the third line, playing alongside Lars Eller (center) and a number of right-wingers, including Richard Panik, T.J. Oshie, and Daniel Sprong. On occasion, and much more recently with mounting injuries, Hagelin has played with Garnet Hathaway and Nic Dowd, Brett Leason, and Aliaksei Protas.

In 2019, the Caps’ front office re-signed Hagelin to a four-year, $11 million dollar contract extension. At the time, Carl was an unrestricted free agent, had been with three teams over a 58-game span, and effectively improved Washington’s penalty kill by approximately 3%, from an average ~80% in 2017-18 to 82.6% in 2019-20.

Point-earning and goal-scoring isn’t Hagelin’s primary responsibility as a bottom-six forward. But it’s impossible to ignore Carl’s sheer lack of puck luck. One could probably count on two hands the number of failed breakaway opportunities he’s had this season alone, most recently versus the Florida Panthers. If the Capitals did pre-, mid-, and post-season superlatives, Carl Hagelin’s would say “most likely to not score on a breakaway”. In 22 games played this season, Hagelin has zero goals and just two assists.

His regular linemates, Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway, have two goals and two assists and five goals and one assist for four and six points respectively. Hathaway alone has two, two-goal games and three multi-point games in his last nine appearances. Again, goal-scoring isn’t the 4th line’s primary responsibility. Arguably, 3rd liners should be contributing offensively (though perhaps conservatively), but the Capitals do not lack scoring depth this season.

Among bottom six players with similar time-on-ice numbers, Hagelin is the least productive. Brett Leason plays an average 8:46 per night and has two goals on the season. Aliaksei Protas has a goal and three assists. Daniel Sprong, when he does play, in an average 12:25 has three goals and three assists. Connor McMichael, two goals and five assists in an average 11:51 TOI. Garnet Hathaway and Nic Dowd were both mentioned previously, but put up nearly identical ice time.

But as a penalty-killer, Carl has taken amongst the most penalties (PIMs) on the team; a total of 14 in 22 games played. Only Dmitry Orlov and Tom Wilson have more (22 PIMs each). For a team that has tightened up its propensity for taking penalties, it is certainly not ideal to be in Hagelin’s situation.

Per CapFriendly, Hagelin is in his 3rd year of a four-year extension, with a $2.75 million cap hit. He did not opt for a no-movement clause nor did he submit a no-trade list. To buy out his contract would cost the team $600,000, which honestly is not a hefty cost, all things considered. The Caps have $5,199,167 in available cap space, too.

Washington has a handful of youngsters that could fill a 3rd or 4th line left winger role, many of which who have already become game-day roster mainstays, including Connor McMichael, Beck Malenstyn, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Joe Snively, Shane Gersich, and even Daniel Sprong. The Capitals are lucky that they’ve got wingers that can play both sides and centermen that can also play wing. There is no lack of prospective replacements within the organization.

Financially, it is possible that the Capitals will move Hagelin, likely at the trade deadline. Even if only for future draft picks or cap space, it would take much to get a worthy return to move Carl.

More. Capitals collapse in 3rd period against Panthers. light

What do you think? Has Carl Hagelin worn out his welcome with the Capitals? Is it worth the financial investment to offload the aging winger, or should the team wait out the remainder of his contract? If Washington does move him, who, or what, would you like to see them get in return?