SUNRISE — To hear Bob Murray explain it, acquiring Carl Hagelin from the Rangers was his way of keeping up with the NHL’s top teams.
“We can play with some speed now,” the Ducks GM explained. “If you watched Tampa Bay and Chicago [in the Stanley Cup Final], that was pretty quick.
“You see who’s in the finals and you see how we got beat — the speed element of the game is getting bigger and bigger and bigger. So we have to move along with the times, and we got a guy that can really skate.”
Hagelin, who won the NHL’s fastest skater at the 2012 All-Star Game, certainly gives the Ducks some wheels. Widely regarded as one of the quickest wingers in the game, he now joins a team that already boasted one tremendous skater in Andrew Cogliano who, like Hagelin, has also won the ASG’s fastest skater competition (in 2009).
Of course, Anaheim had to give to get. That meant shipping out another speedster and former first-round pick Emerson Etem who, despite his skating ability and skill set, never seemed to find his niche with the club.
“He’d just gotten to a point where a change was good for him,” Murray explained. “With our coaching staff the way it was, I felt it was time for him to move on.”
Hagelin figures to play much larger role with the Ducks than Etem did. Coming off a year in which he posted career highs in nearly every category — games (82), assists (18) and points (35) — Hagelin could see even more minutes than the 15:14 he averaged for the Blueshirts last year.
“We’re quite excited about that,” Murray said. “Hagelin has speed, tenacity and he’s on the puck. Really good penalty killer, and I think he can play the power play with the right guys.”
The endgame, of course, is for Hagelin’s speed to help Anaheim get over the hump. Built to win now, the club came within a game of the Stanley Cup Final this year, only to lose Game 7 of the Western Conference Final to one of those speedy teams Murray referenced — the Chicago Blackhawks.
It’s a loss that’s stuck with the Ducks GM.
“We didn’t win,” Murray said. “We didn’t win. It’s the object to win, isn’t it?”