Welcome back to Top Shelf Hockey Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2017 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Nicolas Hague.
Nicolas Hague was drafted in the second round, 29th overall by the Mississauga Steelheads in the 2014 OHL Priority Draft. Since that selection, he has grown into an important role for the Steelheads, playing bib minutes, in all situations, and helping the team to the OHL Eastern Conference finals this year. An alternate captain, Hague had 46 points in 65 games in the regular season, and has added 10 points in nine games through the first two rounds of the OHL Playoffs. However, he also took a suspension for an incident in the first round against the Ottawa 67s.
Hague has plenty of international experience. He played for Team Canada White at the 2014 Under 17 World Hockey Challenge, and also played for Team Canada at 2016 Under 18s. He was part of Team OHL for two games in the Canada/Russia Super Series.
Nicolas Hague Scouting Report: 2017 NHL Draft #23
Defense — shoots Left
Born December 5, 1998 — Kitchener, Ontario
Height 6’6″ — Weight 214 lbs [197 cm/97 kg]
Already measuring 6’6″ tall, Hague is a giant on the blue line. His skating is surprisingly quick for a player his size, and his stride long and fluid. He does have some problems with particularly speedy smaller forwards, but for the most part his skating is more than adequate and gets Hague to the areas of the ice he needs to be. He plays a strong two-way game and covers a lot of ground for a big man. His edge work and pivots are also good for his size, but could continue to be improved. He has surprisingly good lateral agility. In terms of strength on his skates and balance, he can continue to add muscle to his frame, but his size helps him to win board battles and clear the front of the net.
Hague scored 14 goals last season, showing off a powerful slap shot on the power play. This season, he has picked up right where he left off, as he put up 18 goals. Hague is able to move well laterally and walk the line to open up shooting lanes to get his shot through. The shot has good accuracy and he gets off his one-timer quickly. Hague could stand to improve his passing skills though. He makes a decent breakout pass from his own end, but needs to be a bit more patient with the puck at the oppositions blue. He’s improved in this area as the season has gone on, but there is still some room to go. He is likely to be more of a trigger-man than quarterback at the blue line.
Hague isn’t likely to lead the rush, but is willing to join it as a trailer. He can unleash his slap shot, as well as a powerful wrist shot with a good release. He does have decent stick handling ability. While he won’t lead a rush, Hague can make a move or two to skate the puck out of danger and start the transition game with a quick pass.
The big man shows good defensive instincts for a player his age. He steers attackers to the outside, battles hard in the corners and clears the front of the net. Hague maintains good gap control. He is not afraid to use his body and push players around and knock them off the puck, but don’t expect big open-ice hits either. Hague uses his positioning and a long, active stick to cut down passing and shooting lanes.
Projection and Comparison
Hague may not project as a number one defenceman going forward, but he can be an excellent number two or three if he continues to develop. He is still growing into his body, and will need some time to work out some awkwardness, but the potential is there to be very good. His game is similar to Tyler Myers of the Winnipeg Jets, but this is not a talent comparison, merely a style based one.
The following is a compilation of highlights, assembled from Youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect available on our draft board.