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2017 NHL Draft Profile: Nicolas Hague’s upside overshadowed by his size

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Erie Otters v Mississauga Steelheads Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images

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.

Player vitals

Name: Nicolas Hague
Position: Defenseman
Date of birth: December 5th, 1998
Birthplace: Kitchener, Ontario
Height: 6’6”
Weight: 215 lbs.
NHL comparable: Tyler Myers

Rankings

ISS Hockey: 18
McKeen’s Hockey: 27
Future Considerations: 20
NHL CSS: 20 (North America)

Player analysis

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.”

Highlights


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.