Welcome to our series on who wore each number best for the Penguins.
The idea is being openly borrowed from our new hockey writer, Cody Tucker, and his project at the Lansing State Journal covering all the uniform numbers worn through Michigan State football history, one that’s been well received by their readers and prompted heavy discussion and debate.
Under the organization of Taylor Haase, and following the voting of a big chunk of our staff, we’ll publish one new one each day until completion, which should be right around the start of training camp.
Name: Carl Hagelin
Position: Left wing
Born: Aug. 23, 1988, in Sodertalje, Sweden
Seasons with Penguins: 2016-current
Statistics with Penguins: 179 games, 26 goals, 54 assists in regular season; 49 games, 10 goals, 11 assists in playoffs.
Before he was a Penguin, Carl Hagelin was the ultimate Penguin killer.
In a dozen playoff games against Pittsburgh, Hagelin had scored four goals, including a series-clinching marker in overtime of Game 5 in the New York Rangers’ 2015 first-round series win.
Well, if you can’t beat him, get him to join your team.
Just a year later, Hagelin and his linemates were the toast of the town as the Penguins hoisted the Cup for the second time in seven years.
After Mike Sullivan was brought in as coach and installed a system built on speed and puck possession, the first player Jim Rutherford acquired was Hagelin, a player whom Sullivan had coached in New York. The speedy Swede, winner of the NHL’s fastest skater competition just three years earlier, was acquired from Anaheim on Jan. 16, 2016, in exchange for David Perron and Adam Clendening.
Hagelin made an immediate impact in Pittsburgh, recording assists in five of his first six games. But it was in the 2016 playoffs that “Haggy,” with his trademark blonde locks, truly endeared himself to Pittsburgh by using his speed to pressure defensemen on the forecheck and on the penalty kill.
With Hagelin playing left wing on a third line with center Nick Bonino and right wing Phil Kessel, the “HBK Line” carried the Penguins in the postseason. The trio combined for 56 points, 11 of them in the Stanley Cup Final against San Jose.
In Game 6 of the second round series against Washington, Hagelin recorded a goal and two assists, including the primary helper on Bonino’s game-winner in overtime:
The following season, however, was marred by ineffectiveness and injury for Hagelin.
After posting 27 points in 37 games in 2015-16, he had just 22 points at the time he went down with a lower body injury after 61 games. That injury kept Hagelin out of the lineup until Game 2 of the Penguins’ second-round series against Washington and, later, he would even be a healthy scratch for two games.
Though he could never replicate the magic of the HBK Line (Kessel was moved up to the second line with Evgeni Malkin), Hagelin did put the 2017 Cup Final on ice by scoring an empty netter in Game 6 at Nashville as the Penguins repeated as champions:
Back to good health, Hagelin enjoyed a strong 2017-18 season while playing extensively with Malkin and fellow Swede Patric Hornqvist. He recorded 21 assists and 31 points, his highest totals in a Penguins uniform.
But Hagelin suffered an upper body injury in Game 6 of the Penguins’ first-round series win at Philadelphia and missed the first three games of Pittsburgh’s ill-fated second-round series against Washington.
WHAT’S HE DOING NOW?
Hagelin, who turned 30 today, still has his speed and remains a valuable member of the Penguins’ offense. However, he also enters the final year of his four-year, $16 million contract, originally signed with Anaheim. There has been speculation that the Penguins could be looking to unload his contract to free up salary cap space, but that hasn’t happened to date. During last spring’s playoffs, Hagelin’s wife Erica gave birth to the couple’s first child, a daughter named Blanche.
IT WAS SPOKEN
“What I really have always liked about him is he has — his hockey sense is very underrated, and that’s, in my opinion, what allows him to play with top players. [It’s] not only when he forces turnovers or chases a puck down, he has the hockey sense and the vision and the awareness to make that next play. That’s so important to creating an opportunity for his line.” — Sullivan, on Hagelin
“We’re friends. We trusted in each other in every way.” — Bonino, on the HBK Line.
HONORABLE MENTION AT NO. 62
Nope. Hagelin is the only player to wear No. 62 in Penguins history.
Tomorrow: Taylor Haase has No. 63.
Yesterday: Steve Oleksy