The names are pretty familiar to fans these days.
Ivan Provorov. Travis Sanheim. Sam Morin.
They are the trio of first-round draft picks from the last three years and represent the future of the Flyers’ blue line.
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At this time last year, there was another name attached to that list, though. Robert Hagg, a second-round draft pick and the 41st overall player selected in 2013, was considered a rising star.
However, those projections have hit a snag. Although the organization still has high hopes for the Sweden native, his stock on the Flyers depth chart of defensive prospects has fallen following an injury-plagued 2015-16 season that was highs and lows.
This season, which effectively started at the team’s development camp held in Voorhees a couple of weeks ago, the 21 year old is healthy and looking to reestablish himself as one of the defensemen of the future.
“I am hoping to have that breakout year,” Hagg said after one of the training sessions at the camp. “You want to have that breakout year every year. Hopefully, this year it’s finally going to happen.”
Hagg thought it was going to occur last year with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, his second with the Flyers American Hockey League affiliate. Instead, he suffered an injury in the second game of the season, missed a month and didn’t find a groove until the final two months of the year.
After scoring three goals and adding 17 assists in 69 games in 2014-15 with the Phantoms, Hagg finished with five goals and six assists in 65 games.
“I was real happy with the start of the year last. I had a real good [training] camp,” said Hagg, who is considered a puck-carrying defenseman that is solid in his own end. “After that I had a tough year. I couldn’t put it all together. The last two months I finished up good, I thought.”
Hagg expects to pick up in the fall where he left off in the spring.
“He had a tough time last year,” said Kjell Samuelsson, who was one of the coaches at the development camp. “But I think he really came along after Christmas and he did pretty well. I think he is on the right track.”
If he stays on track, Hagg will rejoin Provorov, Sanheim and Morin on that elite list and get closer to his goal of playing in the NHL. He knows what needs to be done, too.
“I have to play at my highest level every single game and play the best that I can,” Hagg said. “My play has been a lot of ups and downs and I just have to go out and be more consistent.”