Poolies, take notice: Carl Hagelin will open this season on the Mats Zuccarello-Derick Brassard line in New York, replacing the guy — Benoit Pouliot — who recorded a career-high in points last year while playing with the duo.
Needless to say, Hagelin’s excited.
“They have some great chemistry, and that passer-first mentality,” Hagelin said, per Newsday. “So it’s important, if I get the puck, I’ve got to make sure I’m shooting. I’ve got to make sure I’m a little bit selfish around the net. If I get a pass in that area, I’ll probably be wide open, and probably have an opportunity to score.”
Pouliot, now in Edmonton, enjoyed a tremendous amount of success on what was the Rangers’ third line last season, notching 15 goals and 36 points in 80 games — though the overall totals don’t really tell the story.
Once the 28-year-old found chemistry with Brassard and Zuccarello, his campaign totally turned around. The same guy that was mired in Alain Vigneault’s doghouse during a terrible November — no goals and just one assist in 15 games — was great down the stretch, scoring 32 points in his final 53 games of the year.
Pouliot was also strong in the playoffs, finishing with five goals and 10 points in 25 games. It’s the kind of production Hagelin, who’s career-high is 38 points, wants to try and replicate, specifically by being the trigger man on the line and driving to the front of the net.
“It’s just a matter of getting someone on the inside,” he explained. “That’s what Pouliot did well last year. I’m going to try to get in those spots a little bit more.”