Brandon Hagel Gives Hockey One Last Shot
In 2016, the Buffalo Sabres drafted Brandon Hagel (159th overall), in the sixth round. They didn’t offer him a contract after training camp, forcing him to make a decision. He could give up on hockey, go to college and become a teacher. Or he could use his one more year of eligibility in Juniors, in hopes of signing an entry level contract. Hagel returned to his junior team for the 2018-19 season, accumulating (41 goals, 61 assist) in 66 games. The Chicago Black hawks offered him a contract, inking a 3 year, $2,775,000 deal.
Career With Blackhawks
Hagel made his NHL debut with the Black hawks in March of 2020. Starting the season with Rockford in the AHL, scoring (19 goals, 12 assists). Consistently in the lineup, in 107 games with the Hawks, he tallied (30 goals, 31 assists). Hagel was traded to the Lightning hockey team on March 18, 2022, for Boris Katchouk, Taylor Raddysh and two conditional 1st-round picks.
Hagel’s Identity in Tampa
Brisebois was keen on acquiring the 6 ‘2, 179 pound left winger for his tenacious fore checking ability. He has un-relentless speed and hustle to the puck each play. Fittingly, Hagel’s first goal as a Lightning player resulted from his fore-check in the neutral zone. He knocked the puck loose skating away to open space. Ondřej Palát found him open, sending the one timer into the net, securing the shorthanded tally.
When arriving in Tampa, he was skating on the third line alongside Nick Paul and Ross Colton. His average ice time was 14:20 minutes. Resulting in (6 goals, 7 assists) through 45 games played during the 2021-2022 regular and postseason.
Bigger Role with Lightning, Hagel Flourishes
The Lightning are enabling Hagel to reach his highest performing ability as a hockey player. With the departure of veteran left winger Ondreji Palat , opportunity arose for Hagel to elevate his game. Solidifying his role on the top line alongside Point and Kucherov, scoring (19 goals, 22 assists) in 48 games. His average time on ice has increased this season to 18:51 minutes. With Palat gone, promoting Hagel to the power play was a no brainier. Scoring (6 goals, 4 assists) on the man advantage. He is a dual threat on special teams, the Bolts utilizing the winger on the penalty kill. He has a knack of getting in the lanes, blocking shots, and creating shorthanded scoring opportunities. Proving he is integral, Hagel is skating his way to earning a long term contract with the Lightning. He becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the 2023-2024 season.
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