Team: Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
Year GP G A PTS PIM +/-
2016-2017 65 18 28 46 107 22
We continue our scouting reports with defenseman Nicolas Hague of the Ontario Hockey League. Although the Predators are more likely to go offense in Round 1 than defense, if Hague is somehow sitting there at No. 30, then Nashville might be rushing to hand in their selection card.
Hague is a highly-touted defensive prospect who would fit quite well in the Nashville system. Many mock drafts have him being taken in the middle of the first round, while others have him slipping to the late first due to the high number of draftable center prospects – a premier position in the NHL.
Because of his size, Hague is good at cutting off forwards and defending in space. He has plenty of offensive upside, has a great shot and is a strong puck mover. Hague has a defensive mentality, but also likes to tee off from the blue line. He could become an asset on the power play.
Given his size, Hague is not going to blow you away with speed or agility. He is not as physical as most would like and could work on playing with more grit and tenacity. Put in the right system, he could flourish with proper coaching. Sometimes struggling to reach top-end speed, Hague could work on his skating ability. Given the up-tempo system Peter Laviolette employs, he could easily get beaten on rushes and won’t win many races to the puck. However, he could be a missing piece for the Preds. When they traded for Cody McLeod, they did so to add more of a physical presence. Hague has the size, and if the physicality develops like it should, Hague could provide the boom in future playoff series against teams such as Anaheim and St. Louis.
Nashville already has a deep defensive pipeline, so I would not expect them to draft a defenseman in the first round. But no one will ever complain about having too many good defensemen. Hague’s size and slap shot may be too much to pass up if he’s still available when the Preds draft. Because of his size, the comparisons to Shea Weber will surely be drawn if selected by Nashville.
With the NHL trending away from big, mobile defensemen and gearing more toward smaller, speedier defenders, Hague is in a precarious position. However, Hague looks the part of a top-pairing defenseman.
What they’re saying about Hague:
“Big, rangy guy who is a bit of a project. A big part of Steelheads transition game. Jumps into the play – good offensive instincts. Still needs to improve footspeed/pivots. Hague has all the tools, just needs time to put it all together” – Dennis MacInnis, ISS Director of Scouting
“Plays in all situations, can anchor a PP. Some scouts think skating still an issue, others not that concerned about his feet. Very poised, well controlled now.” – Jeff Marek, Sportsnet
“He brings an offensive dimension to his game. He’s also effective in a shutdown role with that range, reach and the size he has. He’s growing into his body and growing into his ability. I feel he’s more than your typical huge physical defenseman; he’s a guy who moves the puck very well and brings an offensive component to his game.” – Ryan Jankowski, Hockey Canada Scout
“Many will focus on his size and projection as a shut-down type of 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. 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
NHL Comparison: Colton Parayko
Draft Projection: Mid-to late 1st round