Bob McKenzie actually ranked him right at 25.
#22 Edmonton Oilers: Nicolas Hague, Defence
Peter Chiarelli has done some really good things in building up the Oilers, especially on the back end. While ideally he would like a right handed defenceman, the size and skill of Hague is too much for him to pass up with this pick, as he continues to add to the blue line. Hague has been a force for the Mississauga Steelheads, helping them to the OHL Final.
TheHockeyWriters write up on him:
2016-17 Team: Mississauga Steelheads (#41)
Date of Birth: December 5, 1998
Place of Birth: Kitchener, Ontario
Ht: 6’6” Wt: 220 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2017 first-year eligible
THW Alternate Rankings: 18th (January)
Future Considerations: 17th (Spring)
ISS: 14th (April)
Bob McKenzie: 21st (Mid-season)
Craig Button: 55th (March)
Jeff Marek: 11th (March)
It seems that with every NHL Draft, there’s a defenseman who towers over his competition because of his immense size. It’s no different this season with Mississauga Steelheads defenseman Nicolas Hague.
His play in the second half of the season is one of the reasons why the Steelheads will play for an OHL Championship. He’s been a calming influence on the blue line especially since the departure of Sean Day.
(Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.)
Hague finished the regular season with 18 goals and 46 points in 65 games. He has added a goal and 10 assists in 13 playoff games. Many questioned his offensive game coming into his draft year. Thanks to his influence and success on the power play, he has made strides to become an effective two-way defenseman. He has one of the best point shots in this draft.
What will be interesting to watch is his upcoming performance in the OHL Finals. Regardless of the opponent, he’ll likely face some tough smaller competition who can skate. Although he towers over everyone at 6-foot-6, smaller, faster skaters have found success against him creating scoring chances. If he can solidify this part of the game, he can become an effective NHL defenseman with a long career ahead of him.
NHL Draft Projection
Given what all Hague brings to the table, expect him to go mid-late first round. There are some documented concerns that could see him fall out of the first round. But given his overall improvements in his game and tantalizing size and reach, someone will grab him before he falls too far. If he falls out of the first round, watch for teams to move up in the draft to get him.
“Hague should be the first defenceman taken from the OHL, he has a tremendous package of size, skating and offensive ability. His performance this season has not been as dominant as I had predicted but big defencemen sometimes develop a little slower. The point is he has developed this year and his ceiling is very high. To acquire defencemen of his abilities in the NHL you have to draft them so look for Hague to go off the board early in the first round.” –Peter Harling, Dobber Prospects
“I’m sure many will focus on his size and projection as a shut down type of defender. But I’d rather talk about the interesting progression of his offensive game. He’s not your prototypical offensive defender. He’s not a particularly dynamic player off the rush and I don’t think he’s got a natural feel as a puck carrier/distributor. But, he uses his size exceptionally well in the offensive end. Consistently pinches in deep to keep pucks in, and actually plays a lot below the hash marks, using his size to work the cycle. He’s smart about it though and doesn’t get caught up ice all that much. Then there’s the big point shot. He does a great job of finding scoring lanes and he actually does a good job of using different releases to get it through to the net. I don’t know how much that will translate to the next level, but the improvements and confidence in his ability to make things happen in the offensive end is worth noting.” – Brock Otten, OHL Prospects
Size and reach
Skating for his size
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
Ability to play in tight spaces
Hague has a range of outcomes possible in the NHL. Some believe he can become a number-one defenseman while others believe he will top out as a second or third pairing defenseman. It’s for this reason he is a little harder to project than most players.
His puck moving skills and ability to run a power play make him an intriguing prospect. If he can reach his full defensive potential by being a complete shutdown defender, he could have a long career ahead. I see him as a solid second-pair defenseman who can help your special teams out.
Risk – 4/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 6/10, Defence – 7/10
Nicolas Hague has always excelled as a rookie in different leagues he’s debuted in. He was GOJHL Midwestern Rookie of the Year in 2014-15. He followed that up by being named to the OHL’s Second All-Rookie Team in 2015-16. He was also named the OHL Scholastic Player of the Year.
Scout’s take: Sportsnet