Detroit Red Wings defense battles grow with latest signing

The Detroit Red Wings made another splash in free agency on Monday. While they did not go out and add anyone who will bring the next Norris Trophy award to the organization, they added depth, and the Norris will be coming anyways when Moritz Seider takes the cake.

In all seriousness, the Detroit Red Wings did pick up another defender to add to the mix ahead of the 2022-23 season. They signed defenseman Robert Hagg to a one-year contract. While he’s not going to be a top pairing guy, he’s another name in the hat and another defender gunning for some ice time.

The Red Wings have gone heavy on defensemen this offseason, crowding that group which will make for some interesting positional battles. However, before we get deeper into the battles, let’s look at Hagg a little more. At first glance, the move seems like nothing more than extra depth, but there might be some low-risk, high-reward here.

The 27-year-old Swedish defender has been in the league for six seasons after being a former second-round draft pick by the Philadelphia Flyers organization. If there are two words, to sum up Hagg that Red Wings fans will like, it is: physical defender.

Detroit Red Wings Free Agency Review

Robert Hagg replaces Marc Staal but creates more battles for Detroit Red Wings.

The Detroit Red Wings got a younger version of Marc Staal, who will get the dirty work done in the defensive zone. He’s a bottom pairing guy who gets thrown out there to clamp up the opposition, throw the body around, and maybe set the tone or send a message with a big hit.

Hagg is 6-foot-2, 204 pounds, and has had over 100 hits in each of the last five seasons. Hagg even eclipsed 200 hits during his time with the Flyers organization. It’s also not just hits. Hagg gets dirty, blocks shots, and works the tough areas in the corners; simply put, he does his job in the defensive zone.

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The Red Wings want that depth addition who’s physical and might just be a solid penalty-kill option; Hagg is great. While the signing was more of a move to replace Mark Pysyk, who went down with an injury to his Achilles requiring surgery, it was an under-the-radar move that might pan out well.

Signing Hagg will not boost the number of goals scored or look like some crazy good signing on paper, but watch how Hagg performs in the defensive zone this season. That is if he gets ice time and gets his chances in Hockeytown.

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Detroit Red Wings will have some decisions to make.

Even with Pysyk out for 4-6 months, the Red Wings will have to make some choices. Currently, they have nine players with rosters under the NHL roster on Cap Friendly, without Hagg included. That doesn’t include guys in the AHL section that could get the call-up.

Here are the guys named to the NHL Roster…

  1. Ben Chiarot – new addition
  2. Filip Hronek
  3. Olli Määttä – new addition
  4. Jordan Oesterle
  5. Moritz Seider
  6. Gustav Lindström
  7. Mark Pysyk – new addition
  8. Steve Kampfer – new addition
  9. Jake Walman

Here are the players named to the AHL roster…

  1. Simon Edvinsson
  2. Albert Johansson
  3. Donovan Sebrango
  4. Jared McIsaac
  5. Eemil Viro
  6. Seth Barton
  7. Wyatt Newpower

With all this being said, the Red Wings will not roster 16+ defensemen. With some of the AHL names not even in the hunt for NHL playing time, that takes care of a few names. But even with the NHL players listed above alone, there is no room for nine defensemen on the active roster.

There are some expectations that Simon Edvinsson might sneak his way into the NHL locker room and onto the roster by opening night. Still, with another depth addition, subsequent roster moves could be made before that happens. There will be more on the docket before opening night puck-drop, whether it’s a slew of roster moves between Detroit and Grand Rapids, some waiver moves, or even a trade.

Hagg may not start the 2022-23 season with the Red Wings, but he might be that mid-season addition that helps the team’s defense and penalty kill overall. Even then, the Red Wings’ positional battles ahead of the season should be fun to watch as players fighting for the last few defenseman spots.

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