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Robert Hagg continues the tradition of excellent defence prospects coming out of Sweden in recent years. Players like Erik Karlsson, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Victor Hedman, Adam Larsson, and Jonas Brodin, are making huge contributions at the NHL level, while Hampus Lindholm, Oscar Klefbom, and others have been high draft picks and are knocking on the door of playing at the NHL level. The Swedes recent string of good results in international tournaments is also evidence of the strides that this program has made over the last decade.
The Swedish club team that has led the way in producing these defence prospects in recent years is Modo, and Hagg also continues this tradition. Coming up through Modo’s youth development program, Hagg was called up to the big club this year, and played the last half of the season against men in the Elitserien, Sweden’s top league.
Hagg has a ton of international experience as he was part of Sweden’s last two entries at the IIHF Under 18 World Championships, the 2012 World Under 17 Challenge, the 2012 Ivan Hlinka tournament and the 2013 World Junior Championships. He’s picked up a pair of silver medals (2012 U18, 2013 WJC) and a Bronze (Hlinka) in the process.
Born Feb 8 1995 — Uppsala, Sweden
Height 6.02 — Weight 203 — Shoots Left
February Rank 19
Hagg is an excellent skater. He has great top end speed and outstanding acceleration, and skates with a smooth, powerful stride. He loves to get involved offensively either by leading or joining the rush, and his excellent skating allows him to recover quickly and get back to his defensive position. He has great edgework and agility, and covers a ton of ice defensively, and is able to make quick lateral movements to open up passing and shooting lanes in the offensive zone.
Offensively, Hagg has a hard and accurate slapshot which he utilizes as a trailer off the rush or as a point man on the powerplay. It is his playmaking that really makes him a strong offensive prospect, however. He rarely is pressured into making a bad pass and shows poise and maturity beyond his years in setting up plays, whether it is making a crisp first pass out of his own end of the rink, setting up teammates off the rush, or quarterbacking the play from the blueline.
Defensively, Hagg is very inconsistent. At the Hlinka and the World Juniors he put up excellent defensive performances. He showed the ability to throw his weight around, and make some big hits in the defensive zone. Hagg also cleared the front of the net well and was able to use his size to lean on opponents in the defensive zone. He was aggressive, but also maintained good gap control, played his position smartly and cut down the passing and shooting lanes. However at the under 18 it was like watching a totally different player. He was passive and got beaten off the rush or on the boards on a number of occasions. His positioning was off, and he was dominated by quick forwards in games against both Canada and the US. It was really a disappointing performance for Hagg and raised a number of questions for me.
Stylistically Hagg reminds me of his fellow countryman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Now remember this is a stylistic comparison only. In terms of potential, I see Hagg as a possible second pairing defender who can lead a team’s powerplay and bring his skills to improve his teams transition game at the NHL level.
Check back tomorrow for our number 24 prospect.
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