(photo credit: Frank Fimmano)
A lot has changed since the last time we looked at Robert Hagg
With his second AHL season under his belt, Hagg seemingly has taken a step back in development.
He’s struggled and even been scratched a few times in the AHL leaving many to wonder if he will pan out as an NHL player.
There’s evidence to support that Hagg is a victim of luck rather of skill. For one, he’s shooting 4.20% as of Feb 20, on a team shooting over 10% as of February 20,. He’s also a bit behind other Phantoms defenders like current Flyers Shayne Gostisbehere and Andrew MacDonald, as well as Phantom regulars, Sam Morin, Davis Drewiske, Mark Alt, Max LaMarche and Adam Comrie. Both Comrie and Ghost played fewer than 15 games, but if Hagg’s having a run of bad shooting luck, it would effect his point totals. Given the relative difference in SH% and the fact the Phantoms have an All-Star goalie in Stolarz, it’s possible Hagg is having a run of PDO causing him to appear to struggle.
Also of note, Hagg is still only 20, he came to the AHL at age 19 and is still very young. This sophomore slump isn’t career killing because he’s still young enough to rebound. He’s the same age as fellow 2013 draft pick Sam Morin, and Morin’s development has already been discussed, neither will it be on Hagg.
Not only that, but there are a few defenders who have played multiple seasons in the AHL and still found their way to being NHL regulars.
Kevan Miller of Boston is one such player.
Via Own the Puck
Miller became a halfway decent NHL player despite struggling in the AHL. Of course a portion of his drop in play can be explained by the 2012 lockout and playing against a hybrid of AHL-NHL talent.
That said, two more players also fit the bill and did so in non lockout seasons.
Former Flyer Marc-Andre Bourdon and Brayden McNabb of Los Angeles.
Bourdon found his game in an ECHL demotion and ended up becoming a regular before his career was cut short due to injury. McNabb is currently a regular on the LA Kings, a perennial Cup Contender.
Via Own the Puck
Given that players on the similar curve of development all seem to still have second pair potential. There’s no reason to think that Hagg still can’t become a second pair defender in the NHL. He’s young, have patience and watch him again next season. Remember, most importantly, he’s still waiver exempt and has two more full seasons remaining on his Entry Level Contract.