Golden Knights draft pick Nicolas Hague stands tall on the ice

Updated June 28, 2017 - 10:10 pm

Hockey players are not built solely on ice, but rather their creation can be as much about physics as physicality.

Nicolas Hague stands 6 feet, 6 inches in a game where the world’s best league offers an average height of 6-1, a predicament of sorts for an 18-year old Canadian defenseman seeking to one day wear an NHL sweater of the Golden Knights.

He was a second-round pick in the entry draft while owning what everyone in Chicago described as first-round talent, which he hopes to display at a development camp for the Knights this week in Las Vegas.

What’s important to know: NHL players are exceptional skaters, which means they own an extraordinary mix of technique and balance and physical strength at the point a blade interacts with the ice surface.

This can be a challenge for taller players, who struggle at times to get low and generate speed and power, not allowing them to match that of faster forwards.

In other words, it’s all about the stride, man.

“That starts in the gym, getting my core and legs stronger,” Hague said. “When my skating coach first videotaped me, I could see that I wasn’t getting full extension on my push. I need to get my stride longer. A lot of it is balance and quick feet, paying attention to really important details.

“I have to translate what I do in the gym. Just because I can run fast sprints outside doesn’t mean I will automatically do so on the ice. Just by skating, you don’t always feel it. I’m a visual learner. I had to see it on tape to know about those fast-twitch muscles and what I need to do better with my skating, to be able to skate at an NHL level.”

There are two schools of thought when it comes to height and hockey.

One says that in the post-NHL lockout world, taller players have found it more and more difficult to be effective without the ability to hold and clutch opponents. That, simply, rules aimed at limiting hits to the head now protect smaller players even more, especially in the offensive zone.

But another side will tell you that players over time have become bigger and those who can match size with a high level of skill and agility and understanding of positional play will thrive. That if you have a bomb of a shot from the point and are versatile enough to help screen goaltenders and can man the blue line, height can prove a huge advantage.

That if you’re a good enough skater with size to force opposing players into areas of the ice they don’t desire, all the better.

It’s also true not everyone translates to a Zdeno Chara, who at 6-9 is the tallest player in NHL history, captain of the Boston Bruins and a Stanley Cup winner.

He is — literally and figuratively — several inches better than most other tall players to have made the league.

“I will tell you this, you can’t teach 6-6 and you can’t teach hockey sense, which (Hague) has both of, along with high character,” said Wil Nichol, director of player development for the Knights. “We know he’s going to get to his ceiling, so we just have to give him the right plan for it.

“It varies with (tall players). You can’t walk into a school and say every 11-year old is the same. Every player who’s 6-6 isn’t the same. Some skate better than others. Some handle the puck better. Obviously, we think Nick has a tremendous base and starting point as a hockey player and as a person. That’s why we took him so high.”

Some evaluated Hague as the Knights’ best draft pick, believing him a steal at the 34th overall selection, a player who totaled 70 points the last two seasons for the Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League. He also had a goal and 11 assists in 12 playoff games.

He hit growth spurts of 3-4 inches at ages 8 and 14, and has since annually added an inch or so. He thinks that’s all over now, that he will chase a Knights jersey at 6-6.

A typical question he gets, given how the interest in basketball and the level of talent has exploded across Canada the past several decades, is whether Hague was ever interested in trading in his skates for hightops.

He wasn’t, and his reasoning is pretty straight-forward.

“I can only dunk because of my height,” Hague said. “I can’t dribble and I can’t shoot, but my shot in hockey is pretty good.”

It’s the only one of which the Knights are interested.

Size only matters when one produces.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Golden Knights Videos
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Have Stellar Second Period Against Oilers
Golden Knights have stellar second period against the Edmonton Oilers on the road. Review-Journal sports writers Adam Hill and columnist Ed Graney break down the Knights 6-3 win over the Oilers.
Golden Knights Assistant Coach On Win In Edmonton
Golden Knights Defenseman Nate Schmidt On Win Against Oilers
Knights coach welcomes Schmidt back to lineup
Coach Gerard Gallant looks for contributions from Nate Schmidt as the defenseman returns to the Golden Knights lineup to start a road trip at Edmonton.
Nate Schmidt talks about his return after the morning skate
Nate Schmidt, returning to the Golden Knights lineup after serving a 20-game suspension, talks about his return after Sunday's morning skate. (Ed Graney/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Edge Knights Singing The Blues After Loss To St. Louis
Golden Knights beat reporter David Schoen and Adam Hill go over the Knights loss to the St. Louis Blues.
Golden Knights Gallant on the team's 4-1 loss to the Blues
Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant discusses the team's 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues and says what kind of impact he expects Nate Schmidt to make upon his return.
Coach Gerard Gallant Speaks After Morning Skate
Before playing the St. Louis Blues tonight Gerard Gallant speaks with the media after the Golden Knights morning skate at City National Arena | November 16, 2018.
Coach Gallant Speaks with the Media After Practice
City National Arena | November 15, 2018.
Golden Edge: Fleury Shuts Out Anaheim
Vegas Golden Knights beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-0. Marc-Andre Fleury gets his third shutout on the season in his shiny new pads. Adam Hill, Dave Schoen, and Ben Gotz report from T-Mobile Arena.
Gallant on the Golden Knights win over the Ducks
Gerard Gallant discusses how key the home victory over the Anaheim Ducks was for the Vegas Golden Knights.
Golden Knights after their 5-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks
Vegas Golden Knights players talk about the 5-0 win on their home ice over the Anaheim Ducks.
Gerard Gallant On Haula And Stastny Status
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallants speaks after practice about the status of Erik Haula and Paul Stastny.
Golden Edge: Alex Tuch Interview
Adam Hill and Ben Gotz interview Golden Knights forward Alex Tuch.
Golden Edge Mailbag With Alex Tuch
Golden Knights' Alex Tuch is LIVE in-studio for our VGK Mailbag with reporters Ben Gotz and Adam Hill!
Golden Edge: November 12 Practice
Ben Gotz and David Schoen discuss Nate Schmidt's return to practice, Gallant's absence, and Erik Haula's injury.
Nate Schmidt On Suspension
Golden Knights Defenseman Nate Schmidt talks about his suspension.
Golden Edge: Knights Coming Home After Loss To Boston
Golden Knights beat writer David Schoen goes over the Knights loss to the Boston Bruins.
Golden Edge: Pacioretty makes his return to Montreal
Max Pacioretty makes his return to Montreal, but it is former Golden Knight Tomas Tatar who scores the game winner for the Canadiens defeating the Knights 5-4. David Schoen reports from Montreal.
Golden Edge: Knights Beat Senators On The Road
Golden Knights beat reporter David Schoen goes over the Golden Knights win against the Senators.
Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt discusses his suspension
Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt discusses his suspension after practice in Ottawa (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on Toronto loss
Gallant on Pacioretty
Gallant on how season has gone
Pacioretty on possible return
Golden Edge: Knights Shutout the Hurricanes
The Golden Knights defeat Carolina 3-0, with Marc-Andre Fleury marking his 50th career shutout. Adam Hill and Ed Graney report from T-Mobile Arena.
Marc-Andre Fleury and William Carrier on the Knights Win Over Carolina
November 3, 2018 at T-Mobile Arena.
Coach Gallant Presser
Gerard Gallant speaks after the Knights defeat Carolina 3-0 at T-Mobile Arena November 3, 2018.
Golden Edge: Knights Feeling Blue After Loss In St. Louis
Golden Knights beat reporter David Schoen goes over the Knights 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues.
Gallant and Marchessault on Perron
Coach Gerard Gallant and Golden Knights Jonathan Marchessault comment on former Knights player David Perron (Dave Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Coach Gerard Gallant on former Knights player David Perron
Coach Gerard Gallant on former Knights player David Perron (Dave Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Marchessault on Perron
Gallant on consistency after a loss to the Nashville Predators
Coach Gerard Gallant says the Golden Knights are playing well in stretches, but consistency has been a problem. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fleury on commercial
Marc-Andre Fleury talks about a commercial that features him in disguise as Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Fleury on wig
Marc-Andre Fleury puts on a blond wig at the end of practice to get some laughs.
Golden Edge: Knights Fall To Predators
Golden Knights beat reporter David Schoen goes over the Knights 4-1 loss to the Nashville Predators.
Golden Edge Mailbag - October 30, 2018
Adam Hill and Ben Gotz answer your burning questions about the Golden Knights.
VGS themed games from AGS at G2E Global Gaming Expo
A Golden Knights-themed slot machine was on display Tuesday at the G2E Global Gaming Expo as AGS showed two products that came out of a 3-year contract with the Knights. A video roulette game featuring a Knights helmet and an enormous slot machine were on the floor along with Knights cheerleaders, the Drumbots and Chance, the Knights' mascot. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights talk after practice
Marc-Andre Fleury, Max Pacioretty and Cody Eakin in the locker room on Wed. October 3, 2018.
Vegas Golden Knights show support at blood drive
Members of the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team showed up for a community blood drive on the first anniversary of the Las Vegas shooting, Oct. 1, 2018. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Lucas Elvenes is ranked as one of the Golden Knights' top prospects
Lucas Elvenes is ranked as one of the Golden Knights' top prospects after a breakout season in Sweden. He slid to the fifth round in the 2017 draft after being projected to be selected much higher. “I wasn’t happy about being a fifth-rounder. But it was good for me, too, because I didn’t have so much pressure when I came here," Elvenes said. Elvenes posted five goals and 16 points in 28 games while playing in the top league in Sweden. The Knights signed Elvenes to a three-year, entry-level contract in June.
Golden Knights rookie camp - Day 2
The Golden Knights held their second day of rookie camp at City Arena in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like