Over the past couple of weeks media speculation and social media chatter had the Detroit Red Wings being interested in free agent defenseman John Klingberg.
It turned out the Red Wings were interested in a Swedish free agent D man. But it was 6-foot-2, 210-pound Robert Hagg, not puck mover Klingberg. Hagg played last season for the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers and is known as a heavy hitter. He received a one-year deal worth $800,000
“(He’s a) solid defender that should factor in a third pairing for Detroit,” NHL Network analyst Stu Grimson told Detroit Hockey Now. “He’s not shy to get up into the attack; a strong skater with size who “gets” the North American brand of hockey. He will play the body and stick up for a teammate where needed.”
Robert Hagg delivers a huge hit on Tavares after he's tripped by Marchment pic.twitter.com/fYKSNKzg6Z
— Ah yes, the Leafs. (@LeafsAllDayy) March 27, 2022
The signing was announced in conjunction with the Red Wings revealing recently-signed defenseman Mark Pysyk will be out four to six months with a torn Achilles tendon.
The signing of Hagg now technically gives the Red Wings 11 defensemen competing for eight spots on the defense. Jake Walman had offseason shoulder surgery, and he is not expected to be ready for the start of the season. Pysyk might not be ready until late January. Steven Kampfer has a two-way deal that pays him $375,000 in the American League. He’s a player who probably would get through waivers.
That 11 includes rookie Simon Edvinsson, who was drafted sixth overall in 2021. He is not guaranteed a spot on the team, but it is fair to say that he is expected to make the team.
Even though Hagg is a left-shot defenseman, it doesn’t seem likely that it would impact Edvinsson’s chances of making the team. Yzerman has said if a rookie deserves to be on the team, he will find a way to put him on the roster.
The Red Wings’ experienced defensemen include Ben Chiarot, Olli Maatta, Jake Walman, Jordan Oesterle and Hagg on the left side. The experienced players on the right include Moritz Seider, Filip Hronek, Gus Lindstrom Mark Pysyk and Steven Kampfer.
Hagg, 27, seems like a good fit because the Red Wings want to be harder to play against. Last season, Hagg recorded 138 hits in 64 games. Adam Erne led the Red Wings last season with 161 hits. When Hagg played for the Philadelphia Flyers, he once posted 258 hits in a season. Hagg has played 300 NHL regular-season games.