Forward Brandon Hagel to make season debut for Hawks


In addition to Blackhawks goalie Kevin Lankinen getting his first NHL start against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, the other change to the Hawks' lineup as they take on former head coach Joel Quenneville is forward Brandon Hagel coming in for Matthew Highmore to make his season debut.

Hagel, 22, was voted the "most competitive" out of all Blackhawks prospects by the Blackhawks' scouts prior to the season. Last year, he looked sharp despite not getting on the board, impressing Hawks head coach Jeremy Colliton in his March 11 NHL debut at the United Center against the San Jose Sharks — the last game before the NHL Pause.

"I think it was a good experience for him to get into that game," Colliton told Hawks media ahead of Tuesday's contest. "He knows what it is to play in the league, and actually before that, he was up multiple times kind of as the extra, he warmed up. I think it was good for him to just be with the group, even now. He was with us in the playoffs, he's been with us in the beginning of the season here, just getting used to... we've had a couple discussions about him just relaxing on the ice during practice and not being so nervous. I think as a young player, a lot of times that gets in the way, just feeling like you're an imposter and hopefully he's as prepared as can be. 

"I told him just play and don't be worried about making mistakes, if he makes a mistake, it's not like that's going to be his last shift. We like his game, we like what he brings. Excited to have a little bit of new energy in the forward group."

The winger had 31 points (19 goals, 12 assists) in 59 games with the Blackhawks' American Hockey League affiliate the Rockford IceHogs last year.

The Hawks finish up their Florida road trip on Tuesday where they lost the first two games of the season 5-1 and 5-2 to the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning and lost the first game of the set against the Panthers 5-2. On Friday, the Blackhawks will play their home opener against the Detroit Red Wings.

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