To get the skinny on the best 2017 NHL Draft–eligible players in the three CHL loops, we went straight to the top and talked to an NHL team’s scouting director. Here’s what he had to say on the OHL.
Nicolas Hague, D, Mississauga Steelheads
2016 Bobby Smith Trophy winner
6-6, 220 lb.
11 GP, 7-5-12, +7
“It’s not a great year in the Ontario Hockey League for draft prospects, or at least [there isn’t] one prospect who stands out above the rest. There’s Gabriel Vilardi, Owen Tippett and Matthew Strome, who’s not a great skater but checks every other box. The intriguing kid to me is Hague.
“He’s over six-foot-six and may still be growing. He’s one of those big kids whose strength and coordination are playing catch-up. He’s diligent, a high-end competitor, but it’s hard to project him as an offensive guy.
“My concern is his feet. He’s fine in the open ice, going north-south. My concern is what he does in tight spaces with little shifty guys giving him trouble. Anyone he lays the body on is shut down, but it’s the chase that gives him problems.
“Projecting him is a hard one—with limited offence, he’s not what you look for as a top-pair defenceman, but neither Derian Hatcher nor Adam Foote gave you much offence, and Hatcher always had brutal feet. Those two gave you a lot in the physical game, and Hague uses the body when he has to, though he’s not looking to make big hits like Scott Stevens did—kids coming out of junior these days just don’t play that game.”
Look for Sportsnet’s 2017 NHL Draft Rankings all season long.