Trade rumors get louder this time of year, and for as much as they might want avoid the noise, players hear all about them. But for one of the Blackhawks most popular trade candidates, Brandon Hagel, he’s just taking it all as a compliment:
— Phillip Thompson (@_phil_thompson) February 22, 2022
The second-year forward is playing among Chicago’s top-six forwards group and has found some chemistry with Patrick Kane as a lineman (not bad for a 23-year-old who was signed as a free agent by the Blackhawks after his draft rights expired).
His 14 goals this season are second on the Blackhawks and his 27 points are fourth on the team. He’s also logging 17:20 minutes per game this season, fifth on the team amongst forwards while also getting both powerplay and penalty-kill time. Suffice it to say Derek King, who has coached Hagel both in the AHL and NHL, is a big fan.
Derek King on if Kyle Davidson is shopping Brandon Hagel: "He better not be. Hags has gotta stay here."
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) February 22, 2022
His versatility and style of play make him a player that Chicago would love to have for a long time. And, indeed, he’s currently under contract at $1.5M until the summer of 2024, meaning that he could be a cheap top-end of the lineup player for the Blackhawks for the next couple seasons.
Indeed, the cost-controlled, youthful, jack-of-all-trades quickly became a fan favorite and a player many see as part of the future in Chicago.
But because of that, he has also sky-rocketed his trade value around the league, creating questions about his best overall value to Chicago long-term. Put simply, he’s the kind of player every NHL team wants to have and every contending team asks about at the deadline, which means he could net quite a bit in return. And, indeed the offers have already begun pouring in. According to multiple reports, the Blackhawks have fielded calls about Hagel and the asking price is both quite large and very close to being met, in theory.
I hate to leave it open-ended, but either keeping or trading Hagel could conceivably be the right move for Chicago. I’d like to keep him around for any number of reasons (many of which are listed above), but if the offers are strong enough, the (rebuilding? again?) Blackhawks might be wise to cash in on the opportunity.
For the time being, let’s just appreciate Hagel’s play and hope that whichever path his career takes in the next month, it will be the right one for the Blackhawks in the end.