Speedy Ranger rookie Hagelin making his presence felt

NEW YORK – Ottawa hockey fans who had a chance to see the Skills Competition at the NHL All-Star Game will remember New York Ranger left wing Carl Hagelin.
He’s the guy who edged Senator speedster Colin Greening in the fastest skater challenge with the fastest final round time ever recorded, 13.218.
Nick Foligno certainly won’t forget him, either, not after he stripped Foligno of the puck behind the Ottawa net and set up Brad Richards’ goal in the first game of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal season.
Hagelin, 23, had a terrific regular season (14 goals, 24 assists) and could be one of the finalists for the Calder Trophy, given to the league’s top rookie.
Long ago he played junior hockey in Sweden with Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, who is two years younger, but then he followed an unusual development route for a Swede.
After the Rangers drafted him in 2007 (sixth round, 168th overall), instead of turning pro, he decided to go to the University of Michigan.
Why Michigan?
It was, as longtime Michigan coach Red Berenson said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, “just a chance encounter.”
Hagelin’s father, Boris, had attended Western Michigan before returning to Sweden, and as a 10-year-old, Carl had gone to a hockey camp run by Berenson.
Over his four years at Michigan, Hagelin became one of the school’s more celebrated players, getting 152 points in 171 games.
When his college career ended last spring, he played five playoff games in the AHL with the Connecticut Whale, and started this season there.
But after 17 games he was recalled on Nov. 24 and made his NHL debut the next night against Washington.
Now, he finds himself on the team’s top line with Richards and Marian Gaborik.
So he has the tendency to pinch himself every so often.
“This is definitely better than I thought,” he said.
“I expected to be playing in the (AHL) most of the year, maybe get a couple of games up.
“But I’m still here and obviously I love every moment of it.
“I’m surprised, but at the same time it’s been a lot of hard work, and glad I got the opportunity.”
It was a big jump from college hockey to the AHL to the NHL but Hagelin has seemed to handle it seamlessly.
He got used to different systems and a different style of play in the AHL, finding that there’s not as much scrambling as in college hockey, so that helped.
But the big adjustment was to the rigours of the professional schedule.
“From 45 in college to 82 here, before the playoffs,” he said.
“Just having to play that many games in a year.
“In college you had four or five days to recover after the Saturday game.
“Here, you’re back at it the day after, or two days after. But this is what you work out for in the summer.
“I trained really hard to be prepared for a season like this.”
When he and Karlsson played together ages ago in Sweden, Hagelin said even as a skinny junior player it was clear that Karlsson was going to be a star.”
“Yeah, he was good, and now obviously he’s a good player,” he said.
“Back then he had all the skills in the world.
“Then he grew a lot and got some muscle on that body.”

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