NHL Draft prospects: No. 24 Robert Hagg

MODO defenceman Robert Hagg. (Getty/Dave Reginek)

Intro: Sportsnet.ca is previewing the top 30 prospects in the 30 days leading up to the National Hockey League draft in New Jersey on June 30.

The next prospect in our countdown is the first European prospect, Swedish defenceman Robert Hagg.

Stats: MODO (Swedish Elite League) | 27 GP | 0 G | 1 A | 1 P | -3 | 2 PIM

Who is Robert Hagg?
Hagg is a two-way defender who’s been a fixture on Swedish international teams. He finished tied for the tournament lead in points by a defenceman with six at the 2012 under-17 world hockey challenge, on Sweden’s fourth-place team. He was the captain of MODO’S J20 team this season, averaging nearly a point-per-game with 24 in 28 contests, before joining MODO in the Swedish Elite League. He won a bronze with Sweden at the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial under-18 tournament and a silver medal on his nation’s world junior entry.

Robert Hagg’s scouting report:
Hagg plays well at both ends of the ice, but mostly makes an impact in the offensive zone. He’s an adept puck-handler and passer, and excels with the puck on his stick. He has a good shot and can be a weapon on the man advantage due to his ability to put the puck on net, or on his teammates’ sticks. Hagg plays with swagger and a confident demeanor, but is sometimes downgraded due to inconsistencies in his game.

Teams who might be interested in Robert Hagg:
The Washington Capitals have a strong recent history of drafting Swedish players. One can’t argue with the success they’ve had with Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson, in particular. Hagg, however, could make sense for the Capitals beyond those ties to Sweden. Their defence is in good hands now with the likes of Mike Green and John Carlson, but beyond their pro team, they lack a defensive prospect who can make an impact like Hagg in the future.

Scout’s take: “A very interesting prospect, Hagg has very good two-way potential and stands out most because of his ability to skate with the puck,” says Ross MacLean, head scout for International Scouting Services. “He can be risky but also has a strong shot and is always a dangerous shooting option from the point. He needs to be more consistent defensively and improve his transitional skating on the defensive side.”

“Robert Hagg is one of these players that has the ability to change the complexion of the game,” adds David Burstyn, director of scouting for McKeen’s Hockey. “He’s very methodical. He’s very patient with the puck and he can do a lot of things with it. He’s got an absolute bomb of a slapshot and he can control the pace of the game.

“The one thing about Hagg is he doesn’t necessarily have multiple levels of acceleration, but he has a very controlled pace. When he has the puck, he has this innate way of spinning off guys and looking off guys to deliver a pass. He can also rush the puck up the zone.

“He’s pretty good in the defensive zone,” Burstyn continued. “The only thing with him is a little bit of his attitude. Sometimes, he plays very aloof. Sometimes, he gives the appearance that he doesn’t care. He has all the skill in the world, just sometimes he doesn’t apply himself. There’s some immaturity at times with him on the ice with bad body language and overt celebrations on goals. I thought he did a better job of addressing that once he got to the Swedish Elite League, but he pouted a little bit when he didn’t make the world junior team right away. Then he made the team because they had several injuries to the back end. He’s just got to play with more maturity.”

Rankings: Hagg was ranked eighth by the NHL’s Central Scouting (European skaters), 19th by McKeen’s Hockey and 31st by International Scouting Services.

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