In his most recent trade targets board for Daily Faceoff, Frank Seravalli listed Brandon Hagel at the fourth spot. He then went on to note that the Chicago Blackhawks are looking for a first-round pick and top prospect for the young forward. Although one may assume that this asking price would immediately scare teams away, that happens to not be the case. He confirmed that multiple teams have called about the winger, so there is clear interest around the league.
It is understandable why Hagel’s trade value is so high right now. He carries a $1.5 million cap hit until the end of the 2023-24 campaign and is also having an excellent season. In 45 games thus far, he has 14 goals and 13 assists. That kind of production shows that he is capable of being a top-six forward, and it also doesn’t hurt that he plays a gritty game, too. With all of this, one could argue that the Blackhawks should keep him around for their rebuild. However, if they receive jaw-dropping offers for the youngster, they may have to pull the trigger and move him. Here are four teams where we could see the 23-year-old end up.
Seravalli noted that the Panthers are one of the teams very interested in Hagel. They seem to be in on just about every top player on the trading block right now, and it’s entirely understandable why. They are in win-now mode and already possess a deep roster. Yet, they are still looking to make their team even better, and the 23-year-old would certainly help with that. When looking at his production and gritty style of play, he would be a great addition to their second line.
Yet, to successfully acquire Hagel, the Panthers will have to give up a lot. Their 2023 or 2024 first-round pick would automatically have to be involved in a potential swap. When it comes to a top prospect, one who sticks out is Grigory Denisenko. The 21-year-old winger is viewed as having top-six potential but still has to develop more before becoming an NHL regular. In 30 games this season with the Charlotte Checkers, he has nine goals and nine assists. Although Owen Tippett could also be someone the Blackhawks would want in return, it seems more likely that the Panthers will save him for an even bigger swap.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs have also expressed interest in Hagel. There’s no question that they could use a little help at left-wing right now, and his $1.5 million cap hit would be very easy for them to afford. After losing Zach Hyman to the Edmonton Oilers through free agency, they signed Nick Ritchie as his replacement, and that experiment hasn’t worked out. Michael Bunting has been an excellent surprise, but it still wouldn’t hurt to add one more potential top-six winger.
Hagel could potentially take Alex Kerfoot’s second-line left-wing spot, as it would allow the latter to move back to his natural center position. Yet, to make this a reality, the Maple Leafs would have to give the Blackhawks a notable package in return. Along with their 2022 first-round pick, it would also probably cost them Nick Robertson, Topi Niemela, or Rodion Amirov. It’s a tough price to pay, but if the Blackhawks are demanding a top prospect for him, those are three players who fit that description.
New Jersey Devils
New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald has made it known that he is looking to make “hockey trades” before the deadline. Therefore, although they sport a 17-28-5 record, they are not expected to only be sellers. Instead, they are hoping to add talent that will help them improve immediately. This is why it’s been confirmed that they are not only interested in Hagel, but also Vancouver Canucks forward Brock Boeser. Ideally, they want to acquire a top-six winger who can provide more support for centers Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier.
If the Devils want to save money, Hagel is the player to pursue out of the pair. Boeser’s contract expires after this season, and he is eligible for a $7.5 million qualifying offer. It’s very unlikely that he would decline it, as he has struggled this season. Hagel, on the other hand, will make $6 million less than that for two more years after this one. Thus, there is an argument to make him their primary trade target.
With the Devils being so low in the standings, they can’t trade away their 2022 first-round pick. Yet, they may be willing to part ways with their 2023 first-round pick if it comes with certain protection. For example, if the 2022 first-round pick the Blackhawks traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Seth Jones is a top-two selection, it will be switched to a 2023 first-round pick instead. If they agree to something similar to that and the Devils add prospect Shakir Mukhamadullin to the deal, there could be a match.
New York Rangers
Although the Calgary Flames have expressed interest in Hagel, that may no longer be the case after they acquired Tyler Toffoli from the Montreal Canadiens. Thus, for our fourth team, let’s look at the New York Rangers.
It’s been established that the Rangers are hoping to add a top-six winger before the deadline passes. Hagel’s versatility allows him the capability of playing right-wing, so there could be a match there. Furthermore, they signed Adam Fox and Mika Zibanejad to big contract extensions that kick in next season. Thus, it would be wise for them to find impact players who are on bargain contracts. It’s hard to find many wingers who fit this description better than the Saskatoon native.
The Rangers have a 31-13-5 record and are near the top of the NHL standings. Due to this, they can trade their 2022 first-round pick without much risk. They also have a very deep prospect pool, so they have a few players who the Blackhawks could target in a hypothetical Hagel swap. The first big one who comes to mind is Vitali Kravtsov, but like Tippett with the Panthers, they may want to save him for a blockbuster deal. Other prospects like Nils Lundkvist and Braden Schneider would be more realistic options, however.
The Blackhawks could very well keep Hagel around. There is no need for them to rush a trade involving him. Furthermore, the possibility could be thrown out the window as soon as they hire a new general manager. Yet, if Seravalli’s report is true, there’s at least a chance that we will see him moved by the trade deadline.
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Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, & Detroit Red Wings for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHL Trade Rumors.