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Greg Thornberry The Hockey Writers

Published on Thursday, April 7, 2016





The Trade That Changed the Penguins’ Identity

Pittsburgh Penguins’ General Manager Jim Rutherford has made some impactful trades since taking over after the firing of Ray Shero.

He acquired Phil Kessel, Nick Bonino, Justin Schultz, and a host of other players. But one deal stands out as a total game changer. A trade that completed the Penguins transformation from a slow, vanilla team, to a fast, high-energy juggernaut.

On January 15, 2016, the Penguins traded David Perron and Adam Clendening to Anaheim for speedster Carl Hagelin.

It has been a joy to watch Hagelin put his heart and soul into every shift. His impact is not only shown on the score sheet, but in the very essence of the team.

I have spoken many times about how coach Mike Sullivan has changed the culture of the team. Hagelin and his energetic, passionate play has had every bit as much of an impact on his peers.

A Pure Hockey Trade

The Ducks and Penguins both had players that for whatever reason were not working out for their teams.

Pittsburgh invested a lot of money and traded away a first-round draft pick when they acquired Perron from Edmonton. With his poor performance and expiring contract, it seemed as if the Penguins would never receive a proper return on investment.

The trade for Hagelin, and his subsequent performance has more than made up for the Edmonton trade gaffe. Perron has found success in Anaheim as well, making it a rare hockey trade that worked out for both organizations.

Hagelin is under contract until the 2018-19 season for a reasonable $4 million a year. A culture changing player that is cost controlled for the bulk of his prime. Can’t ask for much more.

Hagelin Has Earned Respect

Since coming to Pittsburgh, Hagelin has scored 10 goals and 26 points in 35 games.

He has outstanding possession numbers with a Corsi For % of 58 and a Relative Corsi For % of 3.4.

But it’s not just the numbers that are amazing, it’s the respect that Hagelin gets from his current, and former teammates.

Below is a quote from a New York Post article by Larry Brooks.

Everyone knows what kind of a player Hags was for us, and he’s the same kind of player for them,” Marc Staal said after the defeat reduced the Rangers’ lead to three points over the Penguins for second place in the Metro Division, with Pittsburgh having seven games remaining as opposed to the Rangers’ six. “He caused havoc with his speed.

Since leaving New York, many players have lamented the loss of Hagelin. It takes a special kind of player to be so well thought of by his peers.

I can tell you personally that being an opposing spectator watching Hagelin “cause havoc” against the team that you follow is exasperating. But when he is on your side, is sure it’s fun to watch.

His speed and hustle are amazing. His hands and hockey IQ are exceptional. His passion for the game is contagious. Not to mention that he has been a good influence on Kessel.

Many players have come through Pittsburgh and have become Penguins legends for one reason or another. Add another one to your list, because people are going to be talking about #Swaggelin for a long time.

As I have said many times on Twitter, how HUGE was the Hagelin deal?

Until next time.


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