Carl Hagelin returned to the lineup on Oct. 29 after missing the first 10 games of the season while recovering from shoulder surgery, and he has had a sizable impact since his return.
The 5'11", 186-pound winger is one of the New York Rangers' top two-way wingers, and he has bolstered the Rangers' top six since coming back from injury.
Hagelin has played on a line with Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan, and in 11 games he has scored four goals and added four markers for a total of eight points. This equates to a points-per-game average of 0.73, and it is quite impressive considering that Hagelin has only averaged 15:49 a game.
These numbers make Hagelin one of the Blueshirts' most consistent contributors, and he came through in a big way while the Rangers were without Rick Nash.
As the season continues Hagelin will likely get more ice time, but right now he is still getting back into game shape. After a hot start, Hagelin has cooled down, but his impact for the Blueshirts has been more than just offense.
Hagelin is one of the Blueshirts' better defensive forwards, and his return to the lineup really added a boost to the Rangers' special teams unit.
The Rangers winger is on the team's No. 2 penalty-killing unit, and he is currently averaging 1:15 while shorthanded. He has gotten more time since returning to the lineup, and he is one of the major reasons why the Rangers have the eighth-best PK efficiency in the NHL.
Hagelin is one of the NHL's fastest forwards, and his ability to tenaciously forecheck opposing teams makes him very hard to play against. Alain Vigneault is a tactician that likes to use analytics and advanced stats, and that comes into play with Hagelin.
There have been a number of occasions this season in which Hagelin's defensive play has led to a goal, and that plays into the system Vigneault is trying to promote.
Vigneault has historically utilized speedy forwards in a two-way role—Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond come to mind—and Hagelin has been used in that manner since returning to the lineup.
To get the best results, Vigneault has put Hagelin in areas that best suit his abilities. For example, he has started 31.1 percent of his shifts in the neutral zone, 14.3 percent in the defensive zone and 54.6 in the offensive zone. (h/t Hockey Analysis)
This distribution of ice time makes a ton of sense because it allows Hagelin to stifle offense in the neutral zone through forechecking, and it allows No. 62 to generate offense from his own zone.
The Hockey News describes Hagelin as a player that "owns tremendous speed, especially on the outside of defenders. Also has excellent offensive instincts, as well as a defensive conscience. Also displays a feisty side that is infectious. Can play either wing position, too."
This versatility and talent makes him a prototypical Vigneault player, and that should allow Hagelin to maximize his potential under the Rangers' current bench boss. The Rangers are starting to get comfortable as a team as the season progresses, and things should be even better going forward with Hagelin in the lineup.
He is a character player that embodies what it means to be a Ranger, and the team certainly has played with more enthusiasm and jump since his return to the lineup.
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