by Nicolas Hague / Special to NHL.com
Nicolas Hague, an A-rated defenseman on NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary players to watch list for the 2017 NHL Draft, plays for Mississauga of the Ontario Hockey League. Last season, his first in the OHL, the native of Kitchener, Ontario, had 24 points (14 goals, 10 assists) in 66 games. The 6-foot-5, 206-pound left-handed shot has offered to maintain a monthly draft diary for NHL.com leading up to the 2017 draft in Chicago. Hague’s first post comes after he had three goals in Mississauga’s 11-3 defeat of Guelph on Oct. 12.
Hi hockey fans.
I’m really looking forward to posting a blog for NHL.com and sharing some thoughts on our team and the excitement leading up to the draft.
I started skating when I was 4 and it’s something I’ve been doing ever since. I played AAA growing up but was always a multisport kid. I played baseball and other sports, but once I turned 10, I stopped playing baseball and focused on hockey.
My hometown is Kitchener, Ontario, so I grew up watching the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL. I followed the Rangers as a kid, and up until the year I started playing for Mississauga, I would still be going to the games. The Rangers were my idols and my dad had season tickets. We went every Friday night and I always said to myself I wanted to play for the Rangers. But it turns out I was drafted by Mississauga in the second round (No. 29) of the 2014 OHL draft. It’s still cool to be playing against Kitchener and it’s always special when we go back to the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium. We only go once a year, but it’s probably one of my favorite games to play in.
My defense partner is Sean Day (New York Rangers). He was one of my best friends on the team when I was a rookie last season. We kind of just clicked; it seems pretty easy with him. He’s definitely been one of the guys who has taken me under his arm. I was nervous coming in last year as a rookie and he made it easy to connect and has already been in the league for two years when I entered. He’s a big reason why I’ve been successful so far.
It was pretty special to score a hat trick against Guelph on Wednesday. I never had a hat trick in my hockey career, going all the way back to minor hockey. After scoring the third one in the third period, I came back to the bench and my coach said to me, ‘Yeah, I taught you how to shoot like that.’ It was pretty funny, but it was certainly a night I’ll never forget.
We had a slow start to the season, something we didn’t want to have happen. But at the same time there really are no excuses because we had all our guys, even those who were attending NHL training camps. We’ve been together and practicing together for a while. I think we’re starting to click, and guys who need to be huge contributors are doing that. The younger guys are starting to get into it, using their speed, and the feeling in the room is becoming a lot better.
This weekend’s road trip, in Flint on Friday and Saginaw on Saturday, is huge. If we can maybe get a sweep that would be huge for our team. We can’t go in there thinking we’re this huge offensive team now after two big wins. We just have to play the way we did that enabled us to get those two wins. We have to keep doing what we have been doing and then we should be fine. We never want to get too high on those big wins, but stay focused.
When it comes to watching NHL players, I’m a big fan of Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber. Obviously his shot is something that stands out. At the same time, I really like watching those types of players. I don’t consider myself to be just a defensive guy. I kind of like to chip in at both ends of the ice and I think that’s something Weber does really well. He’s a leader and a top-two defenseman on his team. He’s out there every night making a difference and doing the little things, and that’s the type of defenseman I want to model my game after, because that’s how I want to be at the NHL level.
Thanks for reading, and check back each month.