Lightning land Brandon Hagel from Blackhawks for multiple players, picks

The Chicago Blackhawks have traded Brandon Hagel to the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Getty)

Julien BriseBois understands the sense of urgency for the Tampa Bay Lightning, as the general manager of the two-time defending champions just acquired another major piece ahead of the NHL trade deadline.

Tampa Bay received forward Brandon Hagel along with 2022 and 2024 fourth-round picks from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for 2023 and 2024 first-round picks, in addition to forwards Taylor Raddysh and Boris Katchouk.

At the time of this filing, the trade is still pending league approval.

Hagel may lack the name-brand recognition that some of his new teammates carry but he’s amid a breakout season for the Blackhawks, recording 21 goals and 37 points in 55 games. At 23, Hagel also represents a bridge between the team’s veteran core that is laser-focused on their immediate goals, while he’ll still continue to improve as Tampa Bay’s core begins to age out of their respective primes.

The Athletic’s Shayna Goldman provided an excellent breakdown of how Hagel is being underpaid relative to his market value, and he’s still under contract through the 2023-24 season.

Under BriseBois’ precise watch, the Lightning have never been afraid to trade future top picks in exchange for veterans who bolster the team’s goal of staying atop the league.

In February 2020, the Lightning acquired Coleman from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a conditional first-round pick, then followed up a week later by acquiring Barclay Goodrow from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2020 first-round pick. Both players were essential to Tampa Bay's Stanley Cup wins but left for the Flames and Rangers, respectively, in free agency this summer in large part due to their market value finally being recognized by the rest of the league.

For Chicago, the two first-round picks will accelerate what’s been a reluctant rebuild for an organization that has fallen from grace, both on and off the ice. Gone are the days where a team led by Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews (whose form has regressed significantly from his peak years) could always be counted upon as a top-tier Cup contender.

Although it must be disheartening to go from the reigning champions to a team in disarray, at least there will be some familiar company for Raddysh. The 24-year-old will be reunited with former major junior teammates Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat. Raddysh, Strome and DeBrincat formed a prolific scoring line for the OHL's Erie Otters during the 2015-16 season and 2016-17 seasons.

Tampa Bay’s central task was to find a way to replace its previous, stellar third line of Barclay Goodrow, Blake Coleman and Yanni Gourde, who departed this summer via free agency and the expansion draft, respectively. BriseBois’ aggressive approach to finding ready-to-win-now veterans during free agency and throughout the regular season helped the Lightning accomplish this goal seamlessly, as Tampa Bay has been getting solid contributions from newcomers Corey Perry, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, while young, ascending forwards Mathieu Joseph and Ross Colton have graduated to larger roles without missing a beat.

Hagel will now be able to slot into a Lightning forward corps that is the most flexible group in the league when it comes to line combinations.

There is no time to think about the future and the Lightning have made it clear that they’re not giving up their crown without a valiant fight.

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