After signing a four-year contract worth $11 million ($2.75 million AAV) with the Washington Capitals on Sunday, forward Carl Hagelin discussed his new contract, the Capitals’ Stanley Cup window, and forwards Andre Burakovsky (can become a restricted free agent on July 1) and Brett Connolly (can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1) on a conference call with the media on Monday.
Hagelin: “good feeling today, glad to be here four years”
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) June 17, 2019
“It’s a good feeling today to know that I’m going to be apart of the Washington Capitals for another four years and credit to the organization – [General Manager Brian MacLellan] and the coaching staff.,” Hagelin, 30, opened with. “Obviously all of the players, first, I think when I got traded to Washington. I didn’t really know what to expect and those 30 games I was able to play there, they gave me a better understanding of how good of a team it is and how much fun it is to play for the [Capitals]. After the season ended with obviously not making it far in the [Stanley Cup Playoffs] and my exit meetings, I told them that I wanted to stay and if we could find something… I knew that there were some [salary cap] issues. I don’t think I ever thought about going to [unrestricted] free agency but I knew that there was a possibility if they couldn’t figure it out with the [salary cap]. Like I said, I’m extremely happy to sign this deal and my family and I look forward to the upcoming season.”
Hagelin spoke about how comfortable he was when he got here and what made him want to stay, saying “I think when you sign a deal that’s four years long it means that there’s a lot of aspects that need to be near your likings. The big thing for me is that it starts with change. If you look at the team, it starts with the best players. They are the veteran players that have been there for a while. They are the leaders and if you look at today’s NHL, a lot of people have talked about the young guys but the teams that win in the [Stanley Cup Playoffs] are the ones that have great leadership and veteran players that have been there before and understand the grind. That’s what it starts with. The way you get treated as a player – the way you travel and win in the [Stanley Cup Playoffs]. For me, being around great leadership and veteran players that have been there before know how important that is over a hundred games in a season, so all of those things and the fact that they will put me in the best situations to succeed. They’ll put me with good players and I’ll find success that way because of all of the centers. It doesn’t really matter what line that you play on, you can have a good chance of being successful.”
After spending last season on three different teams, Hagelin was happy that he will know that he will spend the next four years of his career in Washington, saying “The plan is for me to be with the Washington Capitals for four years. That was one of the reasons why I wanted to stay. I got good term and I moved around quite a lot unlike my first four years in the league but like my last four years. By then, it’s up to you as a player. You need to show up every day. I mean, that’s how gruesome it gets. You’re never going to be given anything. That’s something that I’ve always realized and I always try to bring it every night. It makes that a lot easier when you’re on a good team that wants me and wants to win. Right now, I’m excited to get things going.”
After playing on the Pittsburgh Penguins for parts of four seasons, Hagelin is familiar with defenseman Radko Gudas, whom the Capitals acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers via trade for defenseman Matt Niskanen on Friday, as his team had to go up against Hagelin’s four times a year when he was in the Steel City. He said that Gudas is not fun to play against and that he’s scored some big goals in the games that he’s played against him.
Hagelin: re: Radko Gudas: “always aware when he’s on the ice “..”not fun to play against”
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) June 17, 2019
“He’s a player that I’ve played against a lot since I’ve been in the league. You’re always aware of when he’s on the ice. He’s really strong at skating and plays a physical game. He’s definitely not fun to play against which is why it’s good to have him on your side and a lot of times that I’ve played against him, he’s scored some big goals. Hopefully, he can continue doing that.”
With Hagelin locked up, two of the biggest decisions that the Capitals will have to make this offseason are on Connolly and Burakovsky. Hagelin stated that he wants both to return. “Obviously I liked every single guy that was on the team last year. Both [Connolly and Burakovsky] are guys that I became very close with off the ice. I hope they’re still here but at the end of the day, [Connolly’s] an unrestricted free agent and it’s up to him on what he wants to do. You understand that it’s his option and he has the right to go [to unrestricted free agency]. Hopefully, they will both be back and they’re good friends and obviously great players.”
Despite the fact that the Capitals were expected to run into some salary cap constraints this offseason, Hagelin was still positive that he would return to the nation’s capital. “I was hoping that we would be able to get a deal done. Ultimately, it was between my agent and [MacLellan]. I didn’t have too many conversations with my agent, to be honest. I was traveling around the U.S. a little bit and going home to Sweden. Things happen pretty quickly and I was really happy. I was hoping for a longer term to bring down the cap hit a little bit to get four years. I’m extremely happy to be a part of this organization.”
Hagelin said that he thinks that the organization has a great chance to win the Stanley Cup in the near future, which is why he opted to stay in Washington. He said, “I wouldn’t have signed with Washington if there wasn’t still a good chance to win the Stanley Cup. Like I said before, you start to have the ability to know that we’ll be having [center Nicklas Backstrom] and [defenseman] John Carlson, players that have been in the league for a long time and know what it takes to win with great leadership. Those were our best players in the [Stanley Cup Playoffs] last year and we’ve got to continue to do that. I think that the team is a good mix of veteran guys, young guys, guys that are young but have been in the league for a while and understand the business. Like you said, I stayed in Washington to have a chance to win. I’ve been fortunate to be in the [Stanley Cup Playoffs] every year that I’ve spent in the league and to the Conference Final and Stanley Cup Final three times. You know, that’s what you love: being in those situations and every time around this time of year, you’re watching all of these other teams play in the [Stanley Cup Playoffs] and the [Stanley Cup Final]. It pisses you off a little bit and that’s where I want to get back to. If I didn’t think that the [Capitals] have a chance to play in the [Stanley Cup Final] and win the Stanley Cup, I wouldn’t have signed with them.”
After watching the St. Louis Blues win the Stanley Cup while playing with the balance of speed and physicality, the Capitals went that route by adding Gudas on Friday. However, Hagelin doesn’t think that one thing is needed to win in the NHL today, saying “I don’t think there’s a perfect formula to win in the NHL. I think that teams need to stick with the personnel that they have and those are the ones that are going to be successful. There’s going to be new trends every single year and I think for the organization, they need to switch from speed to heavy because those are the ones that are going to be hard for them to find a way. What I like about Washington is that they’re a mix of a heavy team and a speed time. Like I said, that’s what St. Louis did. They brought in a lot of older veteran guys and that turned out to be successful in the [Stanley Cup Playoffs]. I’m not sure if there’s a formula to win but I definitely know that experience helps and playoff hockey is different than [the way it is] in the regular season.”
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) June 17, 2019
By Harrison Brown