The Tampa Bay Lightning have done it again in trading for Brandon Hagel from the Chicago Blackhawks. No cap space and limited assets to trade, but GM Julien BriseBois still landed one of the best players available leading up to the trade deadline.
Hagel did not come cheaply though. The package of assets sent to Chicago dwarfs that of either the Blake Coleman or Barclay Goodrow trades in 2020. Let’s look at what was exchanged.
How Brandon Hagel affects the Lightning this season
In our Trade Deadline Primer, we mentioned that the Lightning’s biggest need was going to be the type of player they lost after Coleman and Goodrow left in the offseason, and that Hagel fit the bill. While Hagel is not a perfect match to what they had in either player previously, he has just as much potential as to be a game-changing piece for the Lightning in the playoffs.
Hagel had 37 points – 21 goals and 16 assists – through 55 games with the Blackhawks, he’s a unrelenting forechecker, and has the ability to play big minutes on the penalty kill. For a 23-year-old to be playing such vital roles and producing 0.67 points/game is no small feat, but Hagel’s age does leave open the question of consistency as an issue as he only has 108 NHL games of experience.
Most often paired with Patrick Kane and Johnathan Toews on the Blackhawks, it looks like Hagel will see a small step down in the talent of linemates he plays with on the Lightning as he is likely to slot into the middle-six, and most likely the third line. However, this should not hinder him as some metrics show he held his own as a driver of play on the ice with his former experienced Stanley Cup winning teammates.
How Brandon Hagel affects the Lightning in future seasons
The sticker shock of what Hagel cost to acquire is sure to surprise fans, but there’s multiple reasons for why the price paid was well worth it.
In addition to Hagel’s talents, his contract is likely to be one of the best values in the league until he becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the 2024 season. His cap hit of $1,500,000 across those seasons should be worth its weight in gold as the Lightning attempt salary cap gymnastics, especially before the 2024 season when Cernak, Cirelli, Colton, Foote, and Sergachev are all due new contracts.
Hagel’s addition might have confirmed the fate of Ondrej Palat this offseason when his contract ends. With nearly $76 million in cap space committed to 17 players next season (not including Brent Seabrook’s LTIR contract), the Lightning should have roughly $6.5 million to fill out the remaining 3 necessary roster spots and field 1-3 extras.
Palat’s current cap hit of $5,300,00 is probably going to see a modest raise as he has played some of the best hockey of his career the past couple of seasons and the math does not work on making a new deal for Palat fit for the Lightning. So, while Hagel is likely to be entrenched in the middle-six the remaining part of this season, he should become a necessary part of the top-six next season that would otherwise be difficult to fill internally or in free agency.
Other than the salary cap implications of having Hagel’s production on a team-friendly contract that will potentially replace Palat at a fraction of the cost, there’s also the fact that the Lightning will still have RFA control over Hagel at the end of his contract. Therefore, potentially giving the Lightning the chance to further extract value from the trade in re-signing Hagel or trading him to recoup some of the assets spent to acquire him.
Will the Lightning make any more trade deadline moves?
BriseBois also said that they were unlikely to make any trades in the weeks leading up to now. We will have to wait until 3PM EST on Monday to be sure.
How the departure of Katchouk and Raddysh affects the Lightning
One last aspect to consider from this trade is the affect the departure of Boris Katchouk and Taylor Raddysh will have on the team. While neither Katchouk nor Raddysh was likely to see extended playing time in the playoffs this season, they were the leading prospects in the Lightning organization to step into larger roles in the NHL.
Expect Alex Barre-Boulet and Gabriel Fortier to move towards the front of that list with fellow Crunch teammate and Lightning prospect Cole Koepke due to be given a look in the NHL this season or next.
We get a great return for a player JBB sees as a future player, not just a rental. While it may seem like an overpay, Raddysh and Katchouk weren’t producing the way we’d hoped and those 1st round picks would more than likely be late 20’s anyways
Noah’s Grade: A-
Brandon Hagel has the versatility to play anywhere in the lineup and in all game situations. The price was steep, but why would you not give this team the best chance at winning a historic third consecutive Stanley Cup while also setting up the team with a prime asset for the upcoming seasons. Two depth players and two draft picks, that might produce a quality NHL player in 4-5 years, should not stand in the way of winning now for the Lightning.
Stephen’s Grade: A
Giving up two young players and two first round picks is a steep price. JBB was surgical once again in finding a player to fulfill a specific role that is also on a great value deal for the future. That’s the price you have to pay.
Henry’s Grade: A