Reading the Tea Leafs: Niklas Hagman

Following on the success of two other dormant series PPP and I have decided that in order to fill the gap in NHL news that we'll take a look at each of the current Leafs, possible Leafs on the Marlies, and prospects. We'll recap their performance last year, what we can expect from them, and how they can win our hearts (hint: signing the contract was a good first step...unless your name is Bryan McCabe). We have no idea how long of a series this will end up being or how consistent it will be but with two of us expect it to only be half as half-assed and twice as timely.

What's there to say about Niklas Hagman? Don't listen to what I have to say, take it from Youtube's very own Hiatane:

I think Hagman is very underrated in his skills. He is a great goal scorer, but in the NHL he is a hard-worker, so he doesn't have to score every night. Other guys does that. Hagman deserved this goal. Great.

Well said, I think.

Contract Status (according to NHL Numbers)
$3M salary, $3M cap hit, UFA July 1, 2012

Age (as of October 1, 2008)
28, December 5, 1979

NHL Seasons
Six

Run of the Mill Biographical Information

2007-2008 Stats and Team Ranking

(Scoring rates via Behind The Net)

Counting Stats Total/Rank Category 5-on-5 5-on-4 4-on-5
Games Played 82 TOI/60 10.70 2.27 2.18
Goals 27/2 Pts/60 1.91 1.94 1.68
Assists 14/11 GFON/60 2.53 4.52 1.15
Points 41/4 GAON/60 2.53 1.29 5.18

Former Leaf he'd have to play like in order to be christened a deity
Jonas Hoglund. Their names seem pretty similar so... what's that? Oh.

Biggest Question Marks
What number will he wear (Kaberle wears Hagman's #15)? Will Hagman be another example of Jasonblakeitis (ie. a guy who scores a lot until Toronto signs him)?

2007-2008 Summary

Niklas Hagman exploded for 27 goals, the second most goals on a Stars team that went all the way to the Western Conference Finals. Again, since Hagman spent so much time in the west, I'm going to link to Penalty Killing, a Dallas Stars blog, and quote some of their love for Hagman:

With all the setup guys on the team, we need shooters like Nik Hagman. His hat trick from three of Brad Richards’ five assists against the Blackhawks shows how a guy like Richards can use a guy like Hagman.

Oh baby. A shooter? A guy who just shoots the puck? Be still my beating heart. Sort of makes me wish we held on to Kyle "Pancakes" Wellwood though.

Niklas Hagman also understands how dumb the Florida Panthers are:

Doug Armstrong acquired him from the Florida Panthers for a seventh-round pick. That’s all. A draft pick. In the seventh round. (Although the more I see of the way Florida does business, the more I see it as a stupid move by them rather than a particularly shrewd move by Army.)

Sounds about right.

I love his penalty killing. One of the moves he often uses is staying up high, just a little below the point men of the opposing power play, and watching for a chance to intercept a pass between them. When he gets that chance (and he often does), he grabs it and runs. As a result, he had four shorthanded goals this past season.

Shorthanded goal scoring? I'm in love.

Projected 2008-2009 role/team

Niklas Hagman was brought in to bring some speed and a rifle shot to the Leafs, just like Toronto expected from Jason Blake. I'd love to see Blake regain his form, and a line of Steen, Blake, and Hagman tearing it up.

Hagman played on the Stars' PP fairly successfully, and was also part of Dallas' PK, so we'll see him teamed up with Mayers on the Leafs quest to not have embarassing special teams.

Overall, this author thinks the Hagman signing was a steal. $3m for an almost 30 goal guy will be fantastic if he keeps playing like he has.

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