The result of the first-round series may not have been what the Tampa Bay Lightning had in mind. However, left winger Brandon Hegel showed lots of great play for the Bolts throughout the six-game skirmish with Toronto.
The Lightning initially got Hagel in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks back on March 17th, 2022. Tampa Bay gave the Hawks two forwards, Boris Katchouk and Taylor Raddysh, as well as two first-round picks in 2023 and 2024. Both of those picks are top-ten protected.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Hagel Bagel
Hagel did not have a memorable run to close out the 2021-22 season and fans were left wondering if he was worth what the Tampa Bay Lightning gave up to get him.
He followed it up with a productive 2022-23. He finished the regular season with 64 points (30 goals and 34 assists). He played in every regular season game except one and had 1,510 total minutes on the ice.
In this past season’s short-lived playoff run, Hagel finished with 5 points (1 goal and 4 assists) in six games. This led to a 0.83 points per game average for the 24-year-old from Saskatchewan. It was an efficient round from him, to say the least.
The Lightning really needed a step up from a guy like Hagel, as many star players were quiet in the points department all series for them. Brayden Point had just 4 points in the first-round series. Another star who was quiet was defenseman Victor Hedman. He had just 3 assists all series. Hedman also missed a game due to an undisclosed injury.
So, in a time of need when certain star players were not coming through for Tampa Bay, Hagel was the gear that kept the wheel turning. And with a critical offseason for the Bolts that will require a lot of players resigning and testing free agency, Hagel can be a centerpiece for Tampa Bay’s future offensive attack.
His current contract goes through 2024. After that, he will become a restricted free agent, leaving general manager Julien Brisebois having to negotiate a future contract to keep the young star in a Lightning uniform.