Flyers draft pick Robert Hagg ready to work to reach NHL

Posted: July 12, 2013

IN THE recently completed NHL draft, Robert Hagg had no choice but to remain patient until he finally heard his name called.

Hagg became the second defenseman selected by the Flyers after the team's first-round selection of Sam Morin. After being named the top defenseman in the Swedish Hockey League last season, Hagg had hoped to go in the first round.

"I was hoping to be selected in the first round, but I was not disappointed to be taken in the second round because I have come to a great organization like Philadelphia and I really like it, so I'm not upset," Hagg said.

The 6-2, 200-pound Swede was picked 41st overall. With the selections of Hagg and Morin, the Flyers addressed their need for young defense.

In 28 games last season, Hagg scored 11 goals while notching 13 assists for his SHL club. The 18-year-old finished sixth overall in scoring and second in points per game among the league's defensemen in 2012-2013.

On Sunday, Hagg had his first opportunity to flash his skills at the Flyers' 2013 development camp. Despite only a few days of workouts on the ice, Hagg has caught the attention of a few within the organization, including Kjell Samuelsson, former Flyers defenseman and current assistant coach for the AHL Adirondack Phantoms.

"I've seen him twice on the ice, but I've never seen him play. From what I have seen so far, his skill level is high and so are his puck skills,'' Samuelsson said. "He moves pretty well, but to make a really good assessment of what kind of player he is, I have to see him play and see him compete."

Along with Samuelsson, Flyers assistant general manager John Paddock was excited about the second-round choice even though he, too, has never seen Hagg in a live game. Paddock believes Hagg is a player you do not want to put a ceiling on because his potential in the NHL is unlimited.

"When you watch [Hagg], you see there are a lot of unique qualities there," Paddock said. "When you're that big and tall and you move all right then that's unique. I've never seen him play in a game, but what I have seen so far is skill, and with his size, that is a very interesting factor."

Before playing a game with the Flyers, Hagg has a few areas he would like to improve, including becoming more consistent. He believes such improvements will come as he continues to grow as a player and gains experience at the professional level.

"I need to be more consistent and I need to get stronger," Hagg said. "When I play at my highest level, I can compete with any of the guys, but I need to get up there . . . If I want to play in the NHL, I need to get more consistent and play at my highest level every game."

Hagg is regarded by pro scouts as a player who can handle the puck with precision, has a good shot and is a smooth skater, but many question his defensive play. But he benefited from playing in Sweden under current New York Rangers assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson.

"I would say I am strong offensively and up at the blue line as well," Hagg said. "Ulf Samuelsson just let me play my game and let me get better. He didn't push me and let me do my thing."

Although he was not selected as high as he had initially hoped, Hagg will use his draft position as motivation. While he is expected to return to his Swedish team to begin the season, Hagg believes it will not take long until his hard work pays off in the NHL.

"Of course I wanted to be a first-round pick, but if I wanted to be a first-round pick, I needed to play better," Hagg said. "It is only motivation for me, as I want to be a top guy for my age and a top guy in the NHL as well."

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