For Nic Hague, the chance to skate against the best in his age group at the World Junior Summer Showcase is the type of challenge he welcomes and says he needs.
"Every time you step on the ice it's an opportunity to improve. You never know who is watching and the competition provides you another measuring stick and another chance to learn," said Hague, selected 34th overall this summer by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL Draft.
Hague is an interesting prospect. He's 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds with smarts and an edge. He's got it all but for one question mark - will his skating allow him to excel in the NHL.
Top end, Hague's speed is just fine. And to date, his mobility has allowed him to defend against the shiftiest players in his age group. The NHL is a different set of players, however, and every facet of the game is played at the highest level. There's no room for weakness and if it exists it gets exploited.
Video: Vegas selected 12 times at the 2017 NHL Draft
So Hague, like almost every player his age, has some things to prove.
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"The thing about this tournament, there are lots of players here that have already been through an NHL camp," explained Hague. "They are players that have begun their way down the road to the NHL. So there's a challenge there. To make sure I'm doing all the things I need to do to be at the same level or higher."
Hague understands he's in tough to make the Golden Knights out of his first training camp. But that can't change his goal.
Video: Hague was drafted in the second round, 34th overall
"You have to believe you make the team. Otherwise you go into camp putting yourself at a disadvantage," said Hague. "You want to learn as much as you can and be in that mindset of doing everything you can to show management what you can do."
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Hague is also looking forward to lining up against fellow Golden Knights prospect Erik Brannstrom, who is playing for Sweden at the tournament.
"We got to know each other a bit at the draft and at development camp," said Hague. "He likes to compete and so do I. It'll be a lot of fun to play against him."