Nic Hague needs some time to develop. The Golden Knights have now secured that time.
Vegas signed the second-round pick (34th overall, 2017) to a three-year entry level contract Friday. Hague came to development camp, rookie camp and then stuck for the opening of main camp before being returned to the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL.
Hague improved and adjusted to the pace of play during training camp which showed he has the hockey IQ and competitive streak to succeed in the NHL. Now he just needs his body to catch up.
Video: VGK@VAN: Thompson finishes cross-ice dish from Hague
At 6-6, 215 pounds, Hague has some physical maturing to do. His core and leg strength must come along.
"Nic had a good camp and displayed attributes that will serve him well as a pro. The hard work begins now for Nic in relation to his training and development, and he is eager to get the process underway," said Golden Knights GM George McPhee. "We are delighted to have Nic signed to an NHL contract with the VGK."
Hague had shifts during training camp where his shot and offensive knack shone through and provided a window into where he's going as a player. Other shifts, he looked like a young colt still trying to get its legs underneath itself.
"I think for me, obviously I want to get stronger. It's a pretty stereotypical thing to say, but it does make a big difference out there on the ice," said Hague, 18. "When you're playing with guys that much older than you and with much more experience. Also for me, I need to work on my skating. Make strides and skate at that NHL level and be able to still help in puck battles and help me in 1-on-1's and just help me move around out there. I think that is going to be a big part of my game that will help me make the Vegas roster."
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Hague was drafted by the Golden Knights and they held an exclusive contract window. But still, the player must decide to join the organization and Hague had his reasons for doing so.
Video: Hague was drafted in the second round, 34th overall
"It's just first class. From the training staff to the coaching staff to the management to the players. It's truly a professional organization. It's something that when I look ahead into the future it's something that I want to be a part of," he said. "I'm going to do everything in my power to be a regular in the Vegas lineup for as long as possible. It's something that ever since draft day, it's something that I think about every day. I think about being one of the guys on the team and being able to play professional hockey in Vegas. I've been in this city only twice now, once for development camp and once for rookie camp and main camp there. Just seeing the support behind the city and kind of what kind of hockey town Vegas is turning into. It makes me really excited."
Vegas may be a newcomer to the NHL but Hague says the desire to join the organization and build the Golden Knights into a contender is overpowering.
"Absolutely. I think in a way this is more exciting. Obviously, it's not a historical logo that has been around the NHL for a hundred years, but on a completely different side it's an opportunity and a chance to be a part of the newest expansion team," said Hague. "I think that is altogether even more exciting. It's forever how people will remember when the Golden Knights came into the league. I think that's something that I know I'm really excited and looking forward to being a part of that. It's very exciting."