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Tampa Bay Lightning Top 25 Under 25: #2 can Brandon Hagel reach his potential?

Hagel probably won’t shoot bagels again this year

Boichik Bagel
Close-up shot of a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel in a Boichik Bagels paper wrap in Pleasant Hill, California, December 31, 2020.
Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Brandon Hagel, aka Bagel, was the big trade deadline acquisition for the Tampa Bay Lightning last spring. The 23-year-old winger (at the time) had already scored 20 goals and was on pace to hit 30, was sitting on a contract well below his value, and brought that annoying speed the Lightning covet so much. In the end, the Lightning traded two first round picks for Hagel, but didn’t get as much as they bargained for in the final stretch of games and into the playoffs.

The Player

Drafted in the sixth round in 2016 by the Buffalo Sabres of all teams, Hagel went unsigned through the WHL before getting an ELC with Chicago. In his first year with the organization, Hagel impressed enough to earn an NHL game at the end of the season. The next season he was on the team full-time and put up a decent season from the fourth line.

Last season, Hagel exploded in the top six, scoring 19 goals on 10.6 expected (8.4 goals above expected) in 55 games. The winger was definitely in the middle of a hot shooting year and was scoring well above the chances he was getting.

But at the same time, Hagel was an offensive driver on an otherwise poor Chicago team offensively. Almost all of his shots came from the slot and right in front of the goalie, places where teammates and positioning can have a larger impact on finishing. It’s easy to shoot pucks into pads, but if there’s pre-shot movement (which isn’t calculatable yet) or the player can consistently get underneath the defender, xg can be outscored. Joe Pavelski is an example of this.

Unfortunately, when Hagel came to Tampa Bay, he struggled to find a role at first and never quite felt comfortable or was someone to be relied upon. His offense naturally also disappeared at the same time. Amazingly enough, Hagel played a total of 55 games for the Lightning between the regular season and the playoffs, same as his time with Chicago in the same year. Let’s have a look at the two sets of numbers and see what’s different.

Brandon Hagel 2021-22

Stats (5v5) Chicago Tampa Bay
Stats (5v5) Chicago Tampa Bay
GP (reg + playoffs) 55 55
Individual
TOI 725 577
TOI/GP 13.2 10.5
Goals 15 2
Assists 10 5
Primary Points 23 5
Expected Goals 6.35 7
Shots 67 64
On-Ice Stats Relative to Team
Shot Share Rel 4.04 2.74
Expected Goals Rel -0.66 2.52
Actual Goals Rel 6.65 -16.26
PDO
SH% 9.6 5.4
SV% 89.3 90.9

Going through the chart, let’s first get the context of how Hagel was used by each team. On the shallow Chicago team, he was on the second line as the fourth or fifth most used forward. On the Lightning, he was on the third line with some time on the second line, but mostly the seventh or eighth forward. Despite the same number of games played, there’s a 150 minute difference in his season with one club vs another, so the counting stats will definitely be different.

The point production shift is kind of shocking, to be honest. Hagel’s offense completely dried up in Tampa Bay, and while the playoffs were more productive for him than the regular season, he lost the shooting results he had in Chicago. The bright side here is that Hagel actually improved his individual expected goals, meaning he was getting better chances on as many shots in fewer minutes. His rate of chances went up significantly. Unfortunately, his rate of finishing went the other way faster.

I needed to use relative stats here because the team impact between Chicago and Tampa Bay is so obviously different. Using stats relative to the team gets rid of most of that bias, though not completely. So take this section with a grain of salt. Once again we see Hagel’s actual scoring rate decrease a lot, but at the same time he was above average on the Lightning in shots and expected goals. He was making the team better on the ice but just wasn’t getting the results for it.

The last section is where I think a lot of the story of Hagel’s season comes. He just couldn’t get the puck in the net, for himself or for his teammates when he was on the Bolts. The third line last season dried up offensively for much of the season and into the playoffs. Hagel was hopefully going to stem that loss and be the Blake Coleman for the group, but he ended up suffering as much as the others.

At the moment, I don’t think Hagel is Coleman because Coleman was able to elevate a third line. Hagel was able to do the same to a degree, but less. The shooting depression made his time with Tampa Bay look worse than it was. If Hagel has a good season on the second line this season, he could replace Palat’s production at a much more controlled cost. I think a really underrated part of Hagel’s trade was the fact that he’s a second line player on a really cheap contract relative to the rest of the group. The Lightning knew the reins were going to tighten around them and made tough choices this summer. They were able to stem the bleeding less because they have Hagel.

We can see the best and the worst of shooting percentage in this season from Hagel. I expect him to be somewhere between these two extremes in the future (not to mention a quarter of his season was in the playoffs where competition is much higher). Maybe we will see him score in the 15-20 goals, 40 points range. 25-30 goals in a good season. With a playoff run and summer to embed himself with the team, I think Hagel will do much better on the second line this season than he did in spots last year.

Poll

Do you regret the Hagel trade?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    Yes
    (34 votes)
  • 77%
    No
    (120 votes)
154 votes total Vote Now

Poll

What does this season look like?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Hagel hits 30
    (8 votes)
  • 68%
    Hagel bounces back and scores 20-25
    (113 votes)
  • 25%
    Ends up with a middling season around 15 goals
    (42 votes)
  • 1%
    That Chicago season wasn’t real, scoring disappears
    (2 votes)
165 votes total Vote Now

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