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2017 NHL Draft Profile: Nic Hague is a big, boom-or-bust blueliner

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You can’t spell Hague without “h-u-g-e.”

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

Nic Hague is big. The 6-foot-5, 216-pound Mississauga Steelheads defenseman’s impressive size makes him hard to miss on the ice, but Hague is not just a big body.

Hague’s strong fundamentally on defense, with sound gap control and positioning as he uses his long reach to his advantage, disrupting opposing forwards’ with strong stick work. He also uses his size well, and told Sportsnet in March that he “really pride[s] [himself] on not getting beat.” But Hague doesn’t consider himself just to be a defensive defenseman, and likes playing on offense, too.

“I really like being put in those situations,” he told The Hockey News in September. “I don’t consider myself just to be a shutdown guy; I like to jump up in the play and I feel comfortable on the power play.”

In his second season in the OHL this year, Hague finished 12th among OHL defensemen in scoring with 46 points, and fourth among draft-eligible, under-19 blueliners in the “O.” That nearly doubled his totals in all situations from the season prior (24 points), as well as on the power play (8 to 16) and at even strength (16 to 30).

Hague’s shown steady offensive improvement, but his offensive ability is not “what you look for as a top-pair [defenseman],” an NHL scouting director told Sportsnet in October. Plus, despite Hague’s good mobility for a big man, there are some concerns about his skating ability as he deals with smaller, shiftier players.

Poor skating certainly hasn’t deterred the Sharks in the past, and if Hague’s available with the 19th pick, it shouldn’t scare San Jose here either. That, coupled with his limited offensive ability, definitely brings back some memories of failed past prospects, but Hague is a different player and still offers enough upside otherwise as a possible top-four defenseman.

His size could ensure that a team selecting before the Sharks takes a chance on him, but concerns about his skating ability also could mean he slips a few picks. While San Jose does not have the resources to, and should not, trade up for Hague, it’s worth exploring trading down if Hague falls on draft night.

The Basics

Name: Nic Hague

Position: Defense

Nationality: Canada

Shoots: Left

DOB: December 5, 1998

Height: 6’5”

Weight: 216

Hometown: Kitchener, Ontario

2015-17: Mississauga Steelheads

2014-15: Kitchener Dutchmen (GOJHL)

Rankings

ISS Hockey: 18

Future Considerations: 20

McKeen’s Hockey: 27

NHL CSS: 20 (NA)

Strengths:

  • Size
  • Defensive fundamentals
  • Good mobility for his size

Areas of Improvement

  • Limited offensive ability
  • Must continue to work on skating

Highlight Reel