Carl Hagelin has the potential to be the difference between a very good New York Rangers team and a great team. He could be the difference between the team being a playoff qualifier and playoff threat. The Rangers are already considered a viable contender in the postseason, but production from Hagelin will pay huge dividends for New York.
With Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes and playmakers like Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis up front, Hagelin doesn’t seem like the first candidate as the Rangers’ X-factor. His production doesn’t always draw attention, but it does translate to wins.
The Rangers are 11-1-1 when Hagelin scores. It’s hard to argue with results like that. New York is also 20-5-1 when Hagelin records at least one point. A player like Hagelin doesn’t blow you away with his stats, but he is a player that really makes this Rangers team deep.
His speed makes him dangerous whenever he’s on the ice; it has also helped him develop into a solid two-way player. Even when Hagelin hasn’t produced on the scoreboard, his speed has allowed him to draw penalties and maintain a decent defensive game.
A main strength of New York is that the team gets scoring contributions from many players in their lineup. A team needs balance to contend in the playoffs, but if Hagelin could get hot and score on a consistent basis, it can make the Rangers’ offense dangerous.
He’s currently cool at best, with three points in his last nine games including zero goals. The Rangers have won six of those nine games, so it doesn’t look as if Hagelin seems that important, but he will be.
While Hagelin hasn’t scored in recent games, he has played well and has certainly helped his team in other ways. Hagelin has been one of the Rangers’ best penalty killers this season, especially since New York traded arguably their best penalty killer in Ryan Callahan. The Rangers currently rank fifth in the league in penalty kill percentage.
Hagelin has also been a positive contribution at even strength. Every single one of his 33 points this season has been at even strength. Controlling 5-on-5 play is essential to any success the Rangers may have in the playoffs.
New York is playing well, but needs to play better in order to stand up to the elite teams in the East. Hagelin still has two regular season games remaining to try and break a five-game pointless streak.