NHL Trade Grade: Carl Hagelin a home run for Washington Capitals

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 09: Los Angeles Kings left wing Carl Hagelin (62) before a game between the Boston Bruins and the Los Angeles Kings on February 9, 2019, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 09: Los Angeles Kings left wing Carl Hagelin (62) before a game between the Boston Bruins and the Los Angeles Kings on February 9, 2019, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Washington Capitals made one of the best moves of the NHL trade deadline so far in prying Carl Hagelin away from the Los Angeles Kings.

After rumors were swirling on Tuesday, the Washington Capitals announced Thursday that they had acquired Carl Hagelin from the Los Angeles Kings prior to next Monday’s NHL Trade Deadline.

The Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan had the details. Hagelin cost the Capitals a 2019 third-round pick and a conditional sixth-round pick. The sixth-rounder depends on how many games he plays for the Capitals in the postseason. Additionally, the Kings are retaining half of Hagelin’s salary and cap hit to accommodate the trade.

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On the surface this is a fairly typical deadline deal – a team likely to miss the playoffs sends a depth forward on an expiring contract to a contender in exchange for some draft picks. However, there is more to this deal than perhaps meets the eye.

Los Angeles Kings

After a brief stretch where it looked like they may be able to sneak back into the extremely weak Western Conference playoff picture, the Kings have returned to their struggling ways, losing their last five in a row to fall to nine points out of the second wild card.

Los Angeles acquired Hagelin from the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier this season in exchange for Tanner Pearson, in the hopes that his speed would provide a boost to the team. Unfortunately, he has not been able to produce like he did in Pittsburgh, posting just five points in 22 games with LA.

As a result, Hagelin’s name had been on the trade block for quite a while, and it was expected that he would be an attractive low-cost target for contenders given his experience. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Penguins, and has played in five conference championships.

Given his struggles, however, it was unlikely that he would command a high price tag, so receiving a third-round pick and a conditional sixth-round pick is a decent return. Had the Kings waited until the deadline, they may have been able to steal a second round pick, especially with the retained salary, but there is not too much to complain about.

Grade: B

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Washington Capitals

Last season, General Manager Brian MacLellan made what many analysts now say is one of the best trade deadline acquisitions in recent memory, when he brought in defenseman Michal Kempny from the Chicago Blackhawks for a 3rd round pick.

Kempny was brilliant for the Washington Capitals in the playoffs and was one of the key reasons they won the cup. This Carl Hagelin deal, on paper, looks to be just as shrewd as last year’s, and could prove to be a difference-maker for Washington.

The first thing to look at is the trade itself. The Capitals are very tight against the salary cap, and would not have been able to afford Hagelin’s 3.67 million dollar cap hit. As such, the fact that LA retained half of his salary is key.

That salary retention meant that the Caps did not have to send someone over to the Kings to afford Hagelin, which is good because players like Andre Burakovsky and Dmitrij Jaskin have been playing much better as of late, and may play key roles in the playoffs.

The one monetary move they did have to make was waiving playoff hero Devante Smith-Pelly. While it is a shame that he was the cap casualty here, DSP has not had a good season, and some time in the AHL may be what he needs to get back on track before a potential playoff call-up.

Aside from the terms of the deal, Hagelin himself is a fantastic pickup for the Washington Capitals, and was one of the more underrated names on the block. He is tremendous at both ends of the ice at even strength and immediately becomes Washington’s best forward on the PK.

If the qualitative analysis is not your style, perhaps the numbers will be more persuasive. Per Natural Stat Trick, Hagelin’s High Danger Shot Attempts Percentage (HDCF%) is 2.71 points higher than that of the rest of his Penguins/Kings teammates this season.

From an individual perspective, his Individual High Danger Shot Attempts For per 60 minutes (iHDCF/60) is 4.12, a mark that would be good for third on the Caps, behind only Jaskin and Tom Wilson. Hagelin makes the most of his time on ice, which is what is needed from a depth forward.

In all ways, this is an absolute steal for the Washington Capitals, and another great deadline deal from Brian MacLellan, who is building up a resume as one of the best GM’s in the league.

Grade: A

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It will be interesting to see if either team makes more deals before the deadline. Other names rumored for LA include Trevor Lewis and Kyle Clifford, while MacLellan has acquired a defenseman every trade deadline during his tenure with the Capitals.

What do you think? How did both teams do in this deal? How does adding Carl Hagelin make the Washington Capitals better? Join the conversation in the comment section below!