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Florida Roll Call: Future of Robert Hagg with the Panthers

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Florida Panthers defenseman Robert Hagg, far right, stands next to former Buffalo Sabres teammate Sam Reinhart as they congratulate Mason Marchment following a goal during the 2021-22 NHL season. Hagg is now a free agent. — Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

The Florida Panthers brought in defenseman Robert Hagg for insurance, making a trade with the Buffalo Sabres the day before the NHL Trade Deadline hit.

With Aaron Ekblad on the long-term injured list, the Panthers had some extra cap room and a roster spot to bring in a defenseman who may be needed if more injuries occurred down the stretch.

Hagg did not play a lot with the Panthers, competing with Lucas Carlsson and Petteri Lindbohm for the sixth spot in the lineup from the deadline through the end of the regular season.

None of those three played upon Ekblad’s return for Game 1 against the Capitals.

Now, with the Panthers up against the salary cap, Hagg could again be insurance with the Panthers.

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A pending free agent, Hagg would not be priced out of the Panthers’ grasp if they indeed want to bring him back.

Hagg, 27, played in 16 games for the Panthers after joining the team — being a healthy scratch in four regular season games.

In April, Hagg said the unselfishness of the Panthers is something all teams should strive for.

“Guys do not talk about points or scoring goals, they are talking about getting two points each night,’’ Hagg said. “That is what is important and everything else will come. If you play for the guy next to you, you will find success. That is what we feel in there. When I got here I noticed how hard everyone battles every game, every practice.”

A defensive-minded player who has 300 games of NHL experience over six seasons with Philadelphia, Buffalo and Florida, Hagg would be an affordable veteran option for a Florida team with only six defensemen who have played in the NHL under contract.

Carlsson and Matt Kiersted, who are likely in Florida’s plans next season, are restricted free agents due new contracts.

With a previous contract point of $1.6 million, Hagg is affordable although with the Panthers so close to the cap, the team may feel it could get the same production out of younger players who would carry approximately half the cap hit.

Carlsson, Kiersted and pending free agent Chase Priskie may fit that bill for the Panthers.

Florida Panthers Roll Call is a recurring feature at Florida Hockey Now leading into the start of trade and free-agent season.

The NHL Draft begins July 7 in Montreal; the opening of free agency is July 13. 

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