Eastern Edge: First Seasons In New Locales, Including Rakell And Mrazek

Brennan Des


This week's Eastern Edge is the sixth and final part of a series looking at how players performed in new surroundings this season. We'll discuss players that joined new teams ahead of the 2021-2022 regular season, as well as those that were traded during the campaign. The prior editions of this series can be viewed here.

Rickard Rakell

Rakell started the season in Anaheim and posted 28 points in 51 appearances (0.55 points per game), skating over 18 minutes a night and seeing 56% of the team's total power-play time. At the trade deadline, he was sent to Pittsburgh, where he tallied 13 points in 19 games with the Penguins (0.68 points per game). He skated 17 minutes a night and saw 34% of Pittsburgh's total power-play time. Although his role decreased in quantity, it increased in quality as he got to share the ice with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel in Pittsburgh. Rakell mostly played with Sonny Milano and Trevor Zegras in Anaheim, who are good players in their own right, but I don't think it's controversial to say that Crosby and Guentzel are a significantly better duo. Rakell complemented Crosby and Guentzel nicely as the trio dominated the opposition in scoring chances and outscored their opponents 9 to 1 (via NaturalStatTrick).

Currently an unrestricted free agent, it's hard to project Rakell's fantasy value for next year because we don't know what team he'll be playing for. I imagine the Penguins will at least try to re-sign him, but there are more pressing items on the to-do list as Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang also need new contracts. If Rakell stays in Pittsburgh, I could see him breaking the 60-point barrier as part of the team's star-studded top-six.

Brandon Hagel

The young forward got off to a fantastic start with Chicago this year, tallying 21 goals and 16 assists through 55 appearances with the Blackhawks (0.67 points per game). He skated over 17 minutes per game and saw 40% of the team's total power-play time. At the trade deadline, Hagel was sent over to Tampa Bay in exchange for a huge haul (Boris Katchouk, Taylor Raddysh, and two top-10 protected first round picks). Hagel's deployment changed dramatically in Tampa Bay and his production suffered as a result. He averaged 13 and a half minutes per game through 22 regular season appearances with the Lightning, tallying just seven points in the process (0.32 points per game). He went from a secondary power-play role in Chicago to no power-play role at all in Tampa. His scoring-focused role in Chicago – where he started 64% of his shifts in the offensive zone (via NaturalStatTrick) – turned into more of a checking role in Tampa Bay, where he started just 48% of his shifts in the offensive zo