The love affair with size in NHL scouting these days has grown to preposterous levels; some people would rather take a kid who is over six-feet tall than a smaller player with higher production. Why that is, I don’t know. It seems there is no pleasing both crowds, and what I mean by that is not every player can be Anthony Mantha.
With that being said, the NHL seems to be trending towards smaller, mobile, puck-racing defensemen. But who is to say that big guys can’t be mobile, too? This thought has made me warm up to Nicolas Hague.
Name: Nicolas Hague
Date of birth: December 5th, 1998
Birthplace: Kitchener, Ontario
Weight: 215 lbs.
NHL comparable: Tyler Myers
ISS Hockey: 18
McKeen’s Hockey: 27
Future Considerations: 20
NHL CSS: 20 (North America)
If you’re apt with evaluating players in the NHL, you can probably guess what a six-foot-six some-200-pound kid needs to work on -- his skating. Hague has tremendous lower-body strength, but his first few strides don’t get him going like they should. It’s to be expected with his size, but as I said before, the NHL is getting faster every year. Something like that may put Hague at a disadvantage.
While his creativity isn’t exactly jaw-dropping, Hague seems to keep things simple and efficient. He can play in most situations, and possesses a booming shot which can be utilized on the power-play. His wingspan is enormous which can give him a clear upper-hand with gap control, but that will only be entirely useful if he can work on his skating when defending the attack.
Future Considerations did have a scout quote that could be concerning to most, especially Red Wings fans:
“Hague can also panic when pressured deep in his own zone and on occasion shows some careless handling of the puck. He will need to clean that aspect up.”
All-in-all, Nic Hague has the size. No doubt about it. For him to find his stride to what his true potential could be, he’ll need to develop his mobility. With stay-at-home defensemen becoming obsolete in the NHL, it’s important that Hague is brought up as a mobile two-way guy.
For the Red Wings, there will be better options at 9th overall. But Hague has just about everything you’d want in a reliable two-way defender. If he can become more mobile then there’s a good chance he ends up being one of the better Canadian junior league defensemen to come out of this draft. I’d say there’s an 99% chance the Red Wings have fully scouted him out (given he’s been playing with Vili Saarijarvi’s junior team), and they’re highly allured to him.
Bottom line: if he becomes more fluid with his skating, you’ve got yourself some real potential in this guy.