Robert Hagg is an interesting beast. The big-bodied 26-year-old has certainly been playing the sport of hockey this season, appearing in 18 games for the Flyers so far. His job as a bottom pairing, stay-at-home defender is one he is physically suited for, though his play can at times frustrate even the most positive of Flyers faithful.
I think it’s important to make one thing clear going into a review of a guy who is as divisive as Hagg, I actually kind of like him. Watching a big defenseman thump people and block shots is something I can always get behind, but as I dug deeper into his numbers, it becomes clear how many, and how large, the gaps in Hagg’s game actually are.
Looking simply at the concrete numbers, his single goal and a single assist in 19 games are not exceptional. He doesn’t play a particularly offensive-focused game though, so the better story is seen in a couple of his other statistics.
His 60 hits and 16 blocked shots aren’t terrible. His takeaway vs. giveaway numbers are actually better than any other season in his career, only giving the puck away two more times than he takes it, though having a defenseman give it up more than take it away is obviously less than ideal.
And after that, you pretty much run out of positive things to say. His advanced metrics, while not necessarily the worst in the league, are bad. Really bad. Like, I am still actively learning what CORSI and Fenwick are, and even I knew these were some rough numbers at a quick glance.
Especially during times, he is forced to play on the penalty kill, Hagg becomes almost a liability in his own end. While they look better at 5-on-5, those penalty kill stats paint an incredibly bleak picture of his play down a man.
For a quick bit of fun, the popular EA Sports game NHL 21 has Robert Hagg listed at a 78 overall, which is the same rating it gives former Flyer Michael Del Zotto. That is completely meaningless, but make of it what you will.
His advanced numbers, while still bad, have actually been much better so far this season than any other of his career, which is a testament to how bad his numbers used to be. On a team that struggles on the kill, Hagg is certainly a part of the reason why.