Behind the Hagelin – Pearson trade

LA and PIT, each currently occupying last place in their respective divisions (!), made a trade the other day.  PIT sent Carl Hagelin to yet another team (LA), while the Penguins received one of HFFA favorite players, Tanner Pearson.  While this trade essentially provides a change of scenery for both players, each are very good mistake minimizers, with Pearson one of the top players in the NHL at net penalty margin.

We always are agape when the rest of the league would have the opportunity to land one or both players of the caliber that Pearson and Hagelin are relative to our metric.  Yet, for some reason, teams like LA and PIT were able to swap them for each other, without a glaringly obvious quantifiable advantage for either…..except of course through the lens of the Advanced Bracton score.  Note to Kings brass – you got pantsed…..start reading this site!

As for Hagelin, he is proving to be quite the journeyman.  Players of his profile tend to stay in the league for a reasonable amount of time because they will not hurt their current club and are therefore reputationally prove to be adequate at the replacement level (+2.44 AB is closer to the top than the bottom league wide).  In 2017-18, CH was paid 4mm (which is a little above the NHL median and produced 33 AB adjusted points for PIT.  On a money per AB point basis, he ranked 342nd in the league, basically at the top of the bell curve.  Replacement player indeed.

As for Pearson, he is the type of player that could help any team in the league due to his gritty play and relative speed.  He will certainly help PIT immensely, since guys who draw 19 more penalties than they take (like Pearson last year), will put Crosby, Kessel, Malkin et al on the power play far more often than replacement (or Hagelin).  For this reason alone, this appears to be an excellent trade for PIT.  Moreover, Pearson is 35th in the NHL in AB score at a +5 (and in the top third on a money per AB score basis), which means he produces 5 extra goals at the margin for his team…..and on PIT instead of LA, this could be as many as 7 per season.  With the current spread of top to bottom in the Metropolitan division at 7 points, maybe Pearson is the difference between last place and a playoff spot by himself?  This is possible for no other reason that his point production was 14 better than Hagelin last year on and AB adjusted basis.  In a tight division race so far, this may be highly significant.

Pearson is therefore a good value, as well as being a top decile player according to our metric.  We wonder where the rest of the league was while he was being dangled as trade bait (here’s looking at you, St. Louis and Ottawa)?

I guess that’s why we write this blog.

Note – Kudos to Pensburgh – they seem to get it.


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