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2020 Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25: Brandon Hagel at No. 17

The Rockford IceHogs’ AHL MVP and Rookie of the Year this past season is knocking on the door for NHL time.

Rockford Ice Hogs v Laval Rocket Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Second City Hockey’s 2020-21 preseason Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25 series ranks the organization’s top 25 players under the age of 25 by Oct. 1, 2020. The rankings are determined by a composite score from three SCH writers and community member, L_B_R. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. All four ballots will be released after the series is completed.

Brandon Hagel knows only one way to play — fast.

Hagel was the Rockford IceHogs’ most consistent player offensively, and led the team in goals (19) and led the team’s rookies in points (31). His speed, particularly his desire to drive toward the net, and his relentless playing style led him to his success and provided opportunities for his teammates as he drew away defenders.

Hagel, who was named the IceHogs’ MVP and Rookie of the Year, was called up a few times but didn’t get into a game until the final contest before the NHL went on pause because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He played on the third line with Dominik Kubalik and Kirby Dach, and looked pretty comfortable in Chicago’s 6-2 win against San Jose. The Blackhawks brought him to the their return-to-play summer camp and to Edmonton for the postseason as a Black Ace, but he didn’t get into a game.

A third- or fourth-line role appears to be the potential landing spot for Hagel in the NHL. His style of play is something the Blackhawks don’t have enough of in their lineup. If some of his offensive game can translate to the NHL and he can prove to be a reliable player on the forecheck, he’ll likely see more time with the Blackhawks.

Hagel dropped two spots in the rankings because of two new additions to the under-25 age pool.

What’s next

Hagel is currently on loan to HC Thurgau in Switzerland’s second division, the Swiss League, where he’ll remain until training camp begins. He has nine points (four goals, five assists) in six games after a five-point game, which included a hat trick, in a 5-3 win Nov. 17.

Hagel will be counted on as one of the IceHogs’ top scorers next season and will push for more NHL time next season.