Last year the New York Rangers had a highly touted prospect, Ryan McDonagh, start the year with the Connecticut Whale to gain some seasoning before he auditioned for a role with the big club. But midway through the season the Rangers called McDonagh up due to injuries, and he never looked back.
Now, McDonagh is a mainstay on the Rangers' blue line, and he's turning into one of the better players on the entire team.
It's far too early to throw Rangers' rookie Carl Hagelin into the same boat, although the circumstances are similar. Hagelin started the year in the AHL, impressed the brass in both Connecticut and New York and is currently making strides with the big club. He has a goal and three assists in four games played, and seems to be getting stronger and more comfortable night in and night out.
Join me after the jump for more.
Hagelin has been impressive in his four games with the team, making smart decisions with the puck and meshing with his teammates no matter where he is in the lineup. He's averaging just over 11 minutes a night, he's a +4 on the season and he has yet to take a bad penalty (or even a penalty at all).
I know it's a very small sample size, but for a rookie who's fresh out of the AHL (who went to the AHL fresh out of the NCAA) it wouldn't be surprising to see a player need a few NHL games under his belt to get into the swing of things. But Hagelin -- who scored an impressive 49 points in 44 games with the Michigan Wolverines last year -- has been impressive every step of the way.
These aren't just garbage points he's scoring either. Hagelin's goal against the Philadelphia Flyers gave the Rangers a much-needed, two-goal cushion in an eventual 2-0 win. His assist on John Mitchell's goal against Pittsburgh was a primary assist, and it gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead and momentum which they would turn into a 4-1 lead and then a 4-3 win.
Hagelin is bringing a scoring touch to the Rangers' third line, and he's making the most of the opportunity John Tortorella gave him by putting him in the lineup.
Thoughts on his play this year guys?