Trades

Sifting through the Carl Hagelin/Emerson Etem swap

Emerson Etem
(Photo: Jerome Miron – USA TODAY Sports)

In case you missed it, the New York Rangers traded both Cam Talbot and Carl Hagelin during the 2015 NHL Draft. The return for Hagelin was Emerson Etem and the #41 pick on Saturday. The return for Talbot was three picks on Saturday. While most of this post is going to analyze the Hagelin/Etem swap, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least first cover the Talbot trade.

While many rumors pointed to the Rangers getting a much bigger haul for Talbot, it’s not surprising that the Rangers landed what they did. Rumors went from a top-15 pick to a 1st round pick to a pair of seconds and a prospect to just about anything. This is why they are rumors and not reported facts. In the end, Talbot is a 27 year old pending UFA with just 57 games under his belt. Yes, he played very well, but goalies are weird. He could be great, he may not be. Without certainty, both on the ice and with his contract, the value was going to take a hit.

The Talbot trade comes off as a disappointment not because of the return, but because of the rumors heading into the draft. The reaction on the Hagelin trade was entirely different.

Hagelin was a very solid complementary piece for the Rangers throughout his stay in New York. One of the better third liners in the game, Hagelin has been a pretty consistent 15-goal, 35-point player (all at even strength)who killed penalties regularly. He is also one of the fastest guys in the league. But speed alone does not mean Hagelin is an irreplaceable asset on this team.

That said, Hagelin was one of the better possession players on the Rangers. His production is pretty up there:

carl hagelin
http://ownthepuck.blogspot.ca/

Hagelin is due a pretty hefty raise, coming off his two-year bridge deal that paid him $2.4 million last season ($2.25 million cap hit). I had him ballparked at $4 million, which could be on the high end, but even at $3.5 million, fitting Hagelin in was always going to be a challenge.

Paying that much money for a third liner who kills penalties is tough for people to swallow, so Hagelin was dealt for Etem, who doesn’t compare as favorably to Hagelin, at least in the short term:

emerson etem
http://ownthepuck.blogspot.ca/

Make no mistake, Hagelin is the better player at this juncture of their respective careers. Hagelin’s numbers at even strength are better across the board. That said, Hagelin’s effect on possession, one of the biggest reasons why fans love him, is actually diminishing. Zachary Ellenthal did some work on this, and the result is pretty interesting (Side note: I find that chart to be a bit confusing).

Here’s Hagelin’s usage throughout his career. Notice how the bubble gets lighter and lighter as the years progress? That means Hagelin is getting closer and closer to 50% possession, after starting around 54%. That’s a significant drop.

carl hagelin
Courtesy of war-on-ice

So while Hagelin, at the current moment, is the better player, the Rangers are starting to see diminishing returns on their investment. There is cause for concern there, especially when he is due that raise. Etem, on the other hand, brings a lot of potential positives.

First, Etem is three years younger than Hagelin at 23 years old. Second, he was bounced around the lineup a lot by Bruce Boudreau last year, spending the majority of his time on the fourth line. His primary linemates: Nate Thompson and Tim Jackman. These guys aren’t exactly scoring monsters. When it comes to scoring, quality of teammates matters. Only the Crosby’s of the world can score at will. Etem is not Crosby. Here’s how Etem was used in Anaheim:

emerson etem
Courtesy of war-on-ice

Etem got the most offensive zone starts, but he also didn’t exactly play with the best teammates (this chart shows players that played at least 500 minutes last season). He was still a solid driver of possession (53.58%, 2.58% relative). So while his scoring numbers are pedestrian, he still does the little things well.

When it comes to raw skill, Etem has loads of it. He is very talented, with solid hands and quick feet. He’s no Hagelin when it comes to speed (no one is, to be honest), but he’s still very capable.

Considering his skill set and his apparent misuse, there can be a comparison made to J.T. Miller. Miller bounced around the lineup a lot, and played a lot on the fourth line before finally sticking with the top-nine this season. Miller was miscast as a fourth liner. And like Etem need to, Miller had to put it all together before solidifying his role in the lineup. Since then, he’s been solid.

Etem is in the same boat. He has the tools. He needs to put it all together. Playing with better teammates –probably slated to slide into the 3LW slot with Kevin Hayes as his center and potentially Jesper Fast as his RW– will certainly help accelerate that. He’s not going to be helpful in the defensive zone, but deployment and usage are key here. Sheltering that third line in primary offensive zone starts, while drawing weaker defensive pairings, should help maximize his output.

The Rangers put themselves in a tough spot financially, and with a cap crunch looming, dealing Hagelin was always a possibility. The Rangers got a solid roster player with plenty of upside in return. We wish Hagelin (and Talbot) well with their respective clubs. They were great to watch while in New York.

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  • I am pretty excited to see what Etem can do in AV’s system. His skill set seems like it would fit in well.

  • I can’t speak for anyone else BUT those were not the reasons I was upset with the Talbot trade. Would I have been happier with more, maybe. But I am more upset with why we even bothered to make the trade at all. He may have small numbers on the NYR – BUT they were huge numbers to me because (1) they were numbers that we as a team need & (2) they always came at a time when we needed them the most it seemed. So we are losing a number of wins next season along with a larger number of timely wins. To say this team stepped up whenever Talbot was in net OR who also brought a large amount of calming it seems to both the team & the fan base is an understatement possibly. So what did we get in return players that may (probably) never ever be NHL ready.

    • Hatrick is right. This was ALL about the cap.

      Also, keep in mind that last year was a bit unusual. Kind of a perfect storm that worked to the Rangers favor. A perfect storm that won’t likely happen again.

      Specifically, a durable goalie like Hank gets a freak injury. A relatively untested back up like Cam steps up and plays out of his mind. The chances that EITHER of those things would happen again this year are extremely slim. The result of both of these events allowed to Rangers to recoup picks they needed and most importantly get cap relief to sign their RFAs. The perfect storm.

      Again, the chances that either of those things–Hank missing substantial time AND Cam playing so well–happening again this year were minute. And even if Hank does miss time, Raanta is capable. He may not produce the numbers that Cam did, but given a comparable performance by the team, the Rangers will have more than enough to make the playoffs, which is all that matters. Tying up money in a guy who might play 15-20 games this year is a waste when that money can be spent on someone who can help you in all 82.

      Cam was simply a luxury the Rangers could not afford, and one they’d surely lose after this season anyway for nothing.

      • It was about 80% cap, and 20% maximizing your return on Talbot.

        They turned an undrafted free agent into 4 picks (after the trade-down with Washington). That’s great ROI.

        • Very good point, Dave. And Hagelin was a 6th round pick. In a salary cap world, asset management becomes so much more important. The Rangers have gotten vey good at this over the past few years.

  • The team gets younger, bigger, stronger, cheaper, and a little edge to Etem’s game.

    Etem on the 3rd line with Hayes, and Swifty, we may also get some additional offense.

    To Hags, I thank you for your pride in wearing the Ranger blue, the thrills, and the dedication you’ve shown to this team, and it’s fans.

    The only issue now to me is will Etem fit in with the boys in the locker room, with Hags being one of the most popular men on the team. Time will tell soon enough……

    • That’s far from the only issue Walt. Hagelin was a weapon on the ice that defensemen had to fear. With that speed and his corner work, he always had them on their toes. I think this is a huge mistake. How they can so easily remove a top 9 forward from the lineup and think he will be so easily replaced is mind-boggling. All to pay for the asinine contracts of last year. This will make it crystal clear—–Tanner Glass is still here, Hagelin is gone!!!!! Mind-boggling!!!

      • So again, I ask, what would you have done? They didn’t easily remove Hags. They didn’t want to do it. It’s the reality of a league with a hard cap.

        Hags is due a big raise. The Rangers are in a cap crunch. Who should be sacrificed?

        Hags is a good player, but if the money saved allows them to lock down the other RFAs, it will be well worth the sacrifice.

        As for Glass, I agree the contract was not a good one. But that has to be looked at as a separate matter. They needed a 4th line guy last year. Who else was out there? Do we know what other teams were willing to pay to land Glass? That may have dictated the need to add years.

        • Exactly. Hagelin is a solid player, but he’s not irreplaceable. I’m confident AV can help Etem find his game, much like he helped Miller.

          • Maybe yes maybe no. The point is, at this stage, this team did not need to create such a hole or a question mark.. As to what would I have done—-I would have sacrificed a Kline or even a Miller and other prospects in the trade for Talbot. Yeah Miller’s game came around, but Hagelin’s game was already there. And he’s entering his prime. You find a way to keep your assets. Instead of being afraid of sending Talbot to a team on the same coast, Sather should have realized that the window for this team is now. To fool around with team chemistry, not even mentioning Hagelin’s worth on the ice is irresponsible. Just to cover up for last summers mistakes. Just look at the body language of Gorton after the draft during his interview. The guy looks shell shocked. And now the Sather apologists are gonna’ try and explain away Glass’ contract? Good luck with that! Again, as of June 29th, the team is weaker than it was a few weeks ago. And a lot further away from the Cup…..

          • Hags has a cap hit of $2.25 mil. It’s projected to go up to about $4-4.5 mil. Klein has a cap hit of $2.9 mil. Miller right now has a cap hit of $659k, and I think I read he will likely get a bump up to about $1.5-1.8 mil. Neither player offers the cap relief that trading Hags offered, which is what the Rangers had to have here.

            I will say again, Hags was traded because within the pecking order of the Rangers RFAs this year and next, he probably is the last priority. And that’s the right call. I think Miller is going to be a far better player. He has something Hags doesn’t have, and that’s a scoring touch. Yes, Hags is in his prime but he is who he is at this point and is not likely to get better. If Hags was kept, guaranteed it means Stepan is traded, and/or Kreider or Hayes next year. The harsh realities of life in the a hard cap world.

      • Are you comparing Glass being here with Hagelin.????? Do you understand what a salary cap is.???? To sign Hagelin Stepan Fast along with use up almost all of the cap money open. Did they replace Pouiliot a top 6 forward from last year.??? We also will have a chance to pickup another player with the cap space we have now acquired. Nobody wanted to see Hegelin go, but it comes down to money an we just could not pay everyone. Lets wait an see what happens now.

        • Replacing him with Etem was just fine. If you account for growth from Miller, Hayes, and Fast, then the team will be fine.

          I get the feeling Hagelin will regress a bit towards the end of his new deal.

          • Now you’re just speculating to justify your opinion. I get the feeling you’re wrong—-doesn’t mean anything. If they would have kept him and won a Cup next year, with him being a vital cog in the victory, would you really care about some possible regression in the future? Its a amazing that anyone can expect so much from players with such a small body of work on their resume. I get the feeling that some of these guys will suffer the sophomore jinx—-see what I did there? (;

      • Comparing Glass to Hagelin isn’t really fair. No one will take that contract.

        Worth noting that everything Hagelin brings to the lineup, minus PK, Etem also brings to the lineup. He’s not as fast, but he’s up there. Plus he doesn’t have hands of stone.

      • Joe

        Won’t deny what you say, but we got in return a younger, cheaper, tougher, skilled player, and a draft pick that brought us Gropp. I hate the move, I’m a big fan of Hags, but as stated by plenty of people, in cap world this is going to happen year in, and year out. That stinks !!!!!!!!!!

    • Hey paisan, notwithstanding how the locker-room embraces him, I think Etem will grow on you.

      In sum, he’s an unassuming Cali boy who grew up in Long Beach on rollerblades. Thus he’s got great wheels. If his N-S game leads to chemistry with fellow Yanks JT and/or Kevin Hayes, I think this deal might work out surprisingly well.

      Best case scenario: EE becomes Wayne Simmonds-lite (without the pugilism).

  • I just looked at the list of players invited to the Rangers prospect camp, posted on the Blueshirt United site. There is some 25-30 players listed, only four are under 6 feet tall. There was a kid from Cornell, 6’7″ defenseman, wow!!!!!

    Now I understand this means nothing, but at least we are looking at some big dudes, as opposed to smirfs, interesting to me !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • We are all gonna miss Hags, he was without a doubt one of my favorite Rangers because of his work and how great he appeared to be in the room. The guy was just fun to watch, but I agree that his return was diminishing, and it was really his fellow countryman that made this trade doable. Quicky was the one who made Hags expendable, those two fill the same role on this team with Quicky being significantly cheaper. I agree with Slats and Gorton that there is just no way to justify paying a third liner and penalty killer $4M per year, when you know what you have in Fast ready to go for a quarter of that next season. The addition of Etem is actually an extraneous piece that could help to fill in for Marty dropping out. Hags we will miss you, and thank you, and on top of that hope you get an opportunity for some top six and PP time in Anaheim to take that next step in your career

    • You figure Etem adds the same offensive punch Hags did, and plays on the PP. Fast replaces Hags on the PK, and you’re pretty set.

      • Yep, not to mention Etem brings a different element to the offense where he’s going some skill going to the net. From what I’ve seen he’s a guy who likes to go to the dirty areas and that’s something the Rangers could have used in both the Washington and Tampa series where both D did everything they could to protect the house.

  • Etem is best used on his off wing. I’d like to see The Rangers pick up a player like Santorelli

    Nash Brassard Zuccarello
    Kreider Stepan Hayes
    Miller Santorelli Etem
    Glass Moore Fast

    • Why go after Sanorellli when Lindberg will fill the bill just fine, or a lot less, and younger???

      Also, Etem, and Swifty could be interchangeable in the line up don’t you think????

          • The USD/CAD divergence is something which doesn’t have to be a wild card. It hurt the league this time because Rogers pays the NHL in CAD, and the NHL reports HRR in USD. So while that dollar amount was fixed in CAD, everyone assumed that the bump in HRR was fixed, but due to the declining dollar, the amount that HRR ultimately realized took a hit.

            There are ways to hedge the risk of currency volatility, which the NHL, for whatever reason, did not pursue. But they do have the ability to protect themselves in the future. If they do decide to hedge such volatility, the declining CAD shouldn’t really affect the bottom line.

          • And that’s the big thing. If the CAD doesn’t rebound, the cap still won’t go up.

            That Rogers contract is huge.

      • If Lindberg is ready then Glass can be our extra forward. I don’t know if Lindberg has the offense for a top 9 role, but if he does, you can move Santorelli down to a fourth line.

    • Santoreli has been rumored as a target. Kind of neutral on him. I say just get the RFAs signed and then we’ll see what we have left. Maybe we save some cap space for a bigger deal in March.

    • Santorelli would be a solid depth signing. Insurance in case Bourque/Lindberg aren’t ready.

      Good lord does Glass kill that lineup though.

  • Hags was a premier PK man, solid third liner and loved by his teamates. His speed will be missed especially in 3 on 3 OT………………………

    As for Talbot, with the paultry return we received, I feel we would have been better served keeping him. If Talbot fetched a #1 or two #2’s different story.

    Maybe Sather should ask Snow how one acts when you have a first round draft pick in one of the best drafy in years. I guess Sather needs some direction in that area.

        • Disagree. He likely would play less if Hank isn’t injured. He likely would have regressed because, well, that’s the track record on back ups. Highly improbable you get more later unless a really top shelf goalie gets hurt. Not to mention, that once again, we’d lack the cap relief we need right now to get the RFAs signed.

          Talbot’s value is high. Sather sold high and got what he could for a guy with a thin NHL resume.

  • Nothing but spin. “He’s not going to be helpful in the defensive zone.” So I guess penalty killing is out of the question? But that’s ok, we have Hag—–oh, I forgot. Well, at least we got younger and stronger—–right?

      • Again, why speculate on a “possible” when we had the real deal here? This ain’t some fantasy league. You don’t mess with a team that is sooo close, who has other holes to fill, by creating another hole.

        • Well said, Eddie. To expand on that thought….

          Fast is not a ?

          He proved this year he can hang. He got better as the season went along and played his best hockey in the playoffs. The kid is a full time contributing NHLer at 1/3rd of the cap hit that Hagelin will be next year

    • With Zucc, Nash, Fast, the Rangers have plenty of wings on the PK. Actually all three may be better than Hags. I didn’t like the trade, but this isn’t critical.

  • Good haul on talbot considering what goalies went for after the trade for picks…

    Hagelin for Etem a fair swap all things considered.

      • That’s where the rub is to me. If this was just an attempt to recoup something, anything, instead of letting Hags walk to save CAP space, I guess i could live with it. Though there are other places to look, Glass to AHL, Boyle waived etc. Hags was also arbitration eligible, why not take it there, and see what the arbitrator decided… if you don’t like it walk away then.

        But if you try to look at it as a hockey trade, it doesn’t work. Looking at those HERO charts the Rangers took a beating. They are not the same player, yes Etem does has an upside, but the Rangers are in a win now mode. Why gamble on such an unknown… All to downgraded a position to move up 18 spots? (to draft someone who would have probably been there…) If it was Hags AND the 41st pick and not a swap of seconds, I think we are looking at this trade differently. But it was not, and only time will tell.

  • This trade, and draft in general was about Cap management, and seeing what your team looks like, based on some hard decisions to be made. Someone up stairs saw the Hag/Steppan contract negotiations as a one or the other scenario. They decided to hold some extra cash for Steppan. As far as the draft goes, we all thought Klein would be packaged, but the GM thought otherwise. I believe he needs to keep the right defenseman in the fold. I also feel that the selection of “project picks” has more to do with the “ready-for-NHL” players we have on the farm right now. Between Skjell and Lindberg, we seem to have 2 guys ready to wear the big clubs sweater. Maybe there is another one, but I believe McIlrath will also be given a shot. Kristo and Buchnevich also have legitimate shots at hanging around until the last roster cut. Without a top-ten pick, we were not going to get a guy NHL ready, so we will see how good of a coach AV is and how good a judge of talent Gordie and Slats really are.

    • Totally agree Sal. This isn’t about wanting to part with Hags or Cam. It is simply about making tough choices in a hard cap world. As long as the remaining RFAs get signed (and I include next year’s key guys–Kreider and Hayes), then these were the right decisions.

      • Fun thing to think about…. does Hayes get the standard 2 yr bridge deal? OR does NYR brass try to eat up more years at a lower cap hit- like the McDonagh situation. To me, Hayes has shown and will continue to show that he has enough promise and potential to bypass the traditional bridge deal.

        Will be interesting to see.

      • As much as we would have liked a “splash” at the draft, I think this draft speaks to a longer term commitment to putting a high quality team on the ice for years to come. I just saw the Prospect Camp roster was put together. It looks pretty good.

        One more thing, I think the NY Isles made some big moves at the draft, potentially giving them a very deep squad. You can only do this if you have a young team that has yet to reach RFA and UFA status. They will have similar issues in 2 years.

      • There’s a healthy balance of competing now and setting up for the future. They need to get the kids in the lineup.

        I still expect a Klein trade. Hunwick can serve as the stop-gap 6D if Skjei or McIlrath aren’t ready.

        • I think the window for a Klein trade has passed. With six defensemen in place, McIlrath needing waivers and Skjei a possibility, Hunwick has to see himself as the odd man out. Within a week, Hunwick will sign with another team. Not dealing either Klein or McIlrath guaranteed losing Hunwick.

  • Looking at the charts from the article, but not only has possession steadily been dropping the last few seasons, but so too has his minutes. He’s dropped from 19:xx per game to 17:xx. He was a much bigger piece of the Torts puzzle.

    From the dollars spent/cap management perspective, the Hagelin trade/ return should be praised. If people want to get all upset that other contracts squeezed Hags out (Girardi, Glass, etc) that’s fine- but it does no good. Existing contracts are already on the books and we have to live with them. If Hagelin was signed to 4 mil, he’d be the guy next year and two years from now everyone lamented having on the books for only scoring 17 goals per yr at that cap hit. We are a fickle bunch.

    • Fickle Noooooooo. I love the guys who scored last night, but the rest of the bunch can take a hike! (Tongue in cheek of course)

    • Hagelin’s diminished playing time had more to do with the roster improving than AV vs. Torts. By December 2013 Zucc had passed Hags on the depth chart and this past season MSL (somehow) was second among Rangers forwards in even strength ice time and overall ice time.

      Hags was great, but he was becoming an expensive luxury that a maturing roster couldn’t really support under the cap. Personally, I would have gone the arbitration route with him and tried to squeeze out one more year but I’m ok with the deal. I think the Rangers could’ve gotten a much bigger return on Hags but I have a feeling he’s the kind of player that you have to watch day in and day out to realize how truly valuable he is. He is so much more than a speed merchant, he really is one of the smartest forwards in the league. If his hands were a little better he would be a superstar in the NHL, probably a Swedish version of Zach Parise.

    • There’s always some reason to complain, which is why folks are up in arms about the Hags deal.

      The trick with the hard cap isn’t with the stars or with the rookies, it’s with the middle guys. These are the ones that kill your cap.

  • I get that Hags was a cap casualty, but I really find it hard to believe that this was the best possible return for Hagelin and a second round pick. It seems very much like Slats and Co. woke up in the middle of the 2nd round and decided to just trade Hagelin.

    Also, Gorton essentially said that there were better offers on the table for Talbot at various times. They clearly waited too long and paid the price for it. A first for Talbot alone was never really realistic, but what would we have gotten if we packaged him with Hagelin from the start? Or decided to move immediately after Lehner was traded to Buffalo? A very low 2nd rounder (which was subsequently traded for a 3rd and a 4th), third and fourth round picks is a bad return for Talbot any way you look at it.

    • My recommended approach to these trades is to look at them with a big picture scenario in mind.

      When NYR accepted Etem for Hags (the draft picks, IMO, were just for NYR to move up in the draft), where does Jimmy Hayes fit (rumored return from FLA)? Etem > Hayes, so they went that route and moved up.

      Then, since they spent picks to move up, they needed to recoup those picks. Sending Talbot out west seemed to be a big part of this.

      • I don’t see how Etem is better than Hayes in any facet at the moment. Last year Hayes put up 19 goals and the previous year 11. Etem’s previous high is 7 goals and he has shuffled back in forth between the NHL and AHL in all three seasons because he is very inconsistent. It could be a long while before Etem hits 10 goals, let alone 19. So maybe Etem is a decent player for us in 2 or 3 years, but that is still being optimistic.

        Hayes is also bigger, already scoring at the nhl level and can play center or, which would have allowed to move his brother to the wing if they wanted to.

        Slats held onto Talbot too long, Gorton all but admitted too much, can’t spin this as a good use of assets.

  • Usage: Hayes is ready to play on the third line now and going forward without a doubt and could maybe play top 6 if need be. He can also play center or wing. Etem may be ready to play on the third line, but also could struggle to stick there or even on the 4th line. Hayes is also a beast physically like his brother.

    Potential: Hayes is already a 10-20 (19 if we are being technical) scorer in the NHL and still has room to grow. Etem’s realistic ceiling is exactly the player Hayes is right now and it may take him a couple years to get to or approach that level. Yes he may technically have a higher ceiling than Hagelin based on his last year in juniors, but his floor is clearly a lot lower than Hagelin or Hayes.

    Skillset: Potentially a fringe second or third line scoring winger, which Hayes already is. Did I mention Hayes is bigger.

    Etem is two years younger and will have a lower cap hit this year than Hayes. That is the only thing working for him

    • You’re clouding Etem’s lack of development to date with his potential ceiling.

      Currently J Hayes is closer to his full NHL potential. Etem has a ways more to go, but if he get’s there has the skillset to enjoy a more illustrious NHL career.

      J Hayes is more appropriate for the bottom 6.

      Etem should develop into a top 6 scorer.

      Ideally, like Dave mentioned, Etem is currently suited for a 3rd line scoring role. The ideal scoring 3rd line was Pouliot – Brassard – Zuccarelo from 2 years ago. Hopefully next year we see something like Etem – K Hayes – Miller/Fast next year.

  • I get he has a potentially high ceiling, but it is very much a projection/hope at this time. I don’t think he currently projects to a 30 goal scorer unless everything goes right for him. He may develop into that, but can’t say he should do so.

    Far more realistic is that in a couple years he could be a 20 goal guy. Hell Kreider is by all accounts more talented than Etem and he just hit 20 goals for the first time playing solid top 6 minutes the last couple years.

    Hayes has already hit that level of scoring on a pretty mediocre Florida team. And how is it that he couldn’t put up similar or better numbers with the Rangers, especially if he got to play with his brother?

    I am never one to think only short term, but for a team that is built to compete for the cup for the next couple years I think Jimmy Hayes gives you a lot more value than Etem. Sather is never one to make a move for a payoff 3 or 4 years down the road either.

    • Hayes had 19 goals last year. You think he is taking 1m? Would have needed to shed klein deal too. However maybe skjei isn’t ready?

  • I think he cap hit is the key driver on this. I think Slats realizes that getting Stepan signed will require a lot of money, and you still need some left over for the other RFAs both this year and next year, all of who, are key to the present and future.

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