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Insider Only Analysis: Breaking down Penguins’ acquisition of Carl Hagelin

Jim Rutherford and Ducks GM Bob Murray are wheeling and dealing with each other for the second consecutive year. Too bad Murray couldn’t have been talked into taking back Ben Lovejoy.

In a move of two forwards in their prime having major disappointing seasons, the Penguins in the middle of the night acquired forward Carl Hagelin in exchange for forward David Perron and defenseman Adam Clendening. Hagelin has four goals and eight assists this season.

Hagelin is signed through the 2018-19 season and has an average annual value of $4 million. Hagelin has a modified no trade clause that kicks in on July 1, 2016. For the Ducks they get an expiring contract in Perron to give them more flexibility moving forward.

Hagelin, 27, played in 43 games in his first season with the Ducks and less than six months after receiving a four year, $16 million contract, Anaheim determined Hagelin was not built for the Western Conference.

Good thing for the Penguins Hagelin has proven to be a productive player in the East.

The Penguins have had a left wing problem and while they get smaller which is a problem for this group, in Hagelin the Penguins get much faster on the wing. A player who will improve their north-south game, Hagelin fits Mike Sullivan’s aggressive approach at even strength and on the penalty kill. Sullivan coached Hagelin in New York. The Penguins are also getting a very good possession player. Hagelin has had a CF% above 50 in all five NHL seasons, including 54.4% this season with Anaheim.

Where does Hagelin fit in the lineup?

He’s a third line player who worked best in New York in a bottom-6 role. Last season Hagelin played most prominently with Kevin Hayes and JT Miller/Jesper Fast. In Pittsburgh he’s a lock to immediately play in the top-6 with Perron now gone and Beau Bennett still injured.

With the speed he possesses maybe the Penguins look to see if Hagelin has a Pascal Dupuis type effect with Sidney Crosby.

In his previous two seasons, Hagelin put up back-to-back 17 goal seasons with the Rangers, collecting 33 points in 13-14 and 35 points in 14-15. The ceiling looks to be right around there. A cap hit of $4 million per season for the next three seasons is where the pause comes with Hagelin.

When he was playing with a $2.25 million cap hit like he was with the Rangers in 2013-2015, he was great value, but at $4 million per he needs to be a 20 goal, 50 point type two-way player. It’s one of the reasons a cap tight team like the Rangers needed to move him this past summer. When you’re making $4 million per season the expectations start to change.

The Penguins have over $61 million against the cap committed to 14 players next season. Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR PERRON

Jim Rutherford paid a hefty price for David Perron last January in dealing a non lottery protective first round pick (deepest draft since 2003) for Perron who had just five goals in 38 games with the Oilers at the time. Perron would go on to score just 16 goals in 88 regular season games with the Penguins, including zero in five playoffs games.

Perron averaged 0.13 goals with the Oilers last season. This season he was even worse with Pittsburgh at 0.09. It reached the point where it was just unacceptable that a player as talented as Perron is underachieving like he’s been the last two seasons now.

The struggles from Perron last season and early into this season looked to have gotten into his head. He got to the point where he was trying to make the perfect shot almost every time and that’s what happens when players consistently miss the net high.

The Ducks get the more offensive upside in this trade. There’s no question a player with Perron’s skill set could just catch fire and put up 30 goals in a season, though, unlikely. Pittsburgh is getting a much more consistent player that you know what you’re getting on a nightly basis.

It’s one of those deals with pros and cons for each team. The cons for Pittsburgh obviously being the Hagelin contract.

As for Adam Clendening, once the new coach also had no interest in playing him, the Penguins were destined to move him. The thinking from the Penguins end was opening a spot among the 50 allotted contracts for pending moves. Also gives some more flexibility to eventually recall Derrick Pouliot.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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