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2017 NHL MOCK DRAFT: St. Louis Blues use 2nd first round pick on defenseman Nicolas Hague

Niagara IceDogs v Mississauga Steelheads Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images

Welcome to the 2017 edition of the Hockey Wilderness mock draft. We’re doing things a little differently this time around. You’ll still be getting the same great draft profiles, but we’ve gone ahead and condensed the format to drive through all the picks in the first round in the 10 days leading up to the draft. In prior seasons we’ve brought you a pick each day up to the draft, but now we’re bringing 3 picks each day, culminating with the 31st pick right on draft day.

The Blues went through a period of transition this past year as long-time Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock was removed from his post behind the Blues bench, and replaced with former Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo. While similar in style, Yeo preached more defense for his Blues, and that focus helped first full-season start Jake Allen to rebound. He rebounded so much so that the Blues trapped, saved, and boxed out their way past the Minnesota Wild first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

[Long Sigh]

That said the Blues now have an identity change for which General Manager Doug Armstrong must adapt. Big, solid, and puck moving defensemen are now a priority. The Blues haven’t drafted a defenseman in the first round since 2014. Petteri Lindbohm, a 2012 6th round pick from HIFK Helsinki is now with the Chicago Wolves. He’s struggled to stick in his 40 spaced over three seasons at the NHL level. Minnetonka, Minnesota native Tommy Vanelli has been demoted to the ECHL and is having trouble sticking. Jake Walman made the jump from Providence College in the NCAA to the AHL after his Providence’s season ended in March.

At the NHL, Colton Parayko is a hulking menace to forwards in the defensive zone, and Alex Pietrangelo may be one of the Blues’ most reliable d-man. Jay Bouwmeester is aging, but logs a bunch of minutes, especially after Kevin Shattenkirk was shipped out at the trade deadline. Joel Edmundson isn’t a killer on defense least he wasn’t until the Minnesota series.

The Blues, under the leadership of Mike Yeo, is going to demand a ton from their defensemen. With that in mind, the Blues select with the 27th pick int he 2017 NHL Entry Draft Nicolas Hague, from Missussauga of the Ontario Hockey League.

The Hague

One thing you will certainly notice from Nicolas Hague is his shot. He can get the puck off in many different ways, and it gets on net. One thing he’s particularly good at - one timers. He can get a one timer off from the faceoff circle or at the point just inside the blue line and have the puck find the net. Looking for assists? The forwards are going to have to pounce on the rebounds. His heavy shots give goalies fits and it causes a lot of rebounds...that is if it doesn’t squeak through their gear first.

He isn’t fast by any measure, but does join the rush when the opportunity presents itself. In fact, most scouts have said that his skating might be his biggest issues.

While his speed is solid once he gets going, his first few strides are sloppy and inefficient, making him easy to beat in puck races for a faster opponents he faces. - Future Considerations

Plays in all situations, can anchor a PP. Some scouts think skating still an issue, others not that concerned about his feet. Very poised, well controlled now. - Jeff Marek | Sportsnet

But scouts love his offensive instinct, his size (~6’6”, and 213 pounds), and that shot of his.

Showed the ability to get pucks through to the net from the point and has a big one-timer on the PP. Makes good reads in the Ozone and finds open space to get shots. -ISS Hockey

Getting pucks through is such an underrated skill. At the NHL, we’ve seen that everyone blocks shots, and we see what someone with an inability to get shots through the mass of bodies in front of the net can do to stifle offense ([cough]Suter[cough]).

However, as scouts rave about his offensive instincts, Hague does possess a knack for cancelling out the opposition in his own end. Not a brute force by any stretch of the imagination, but he maintains a gap, angles opposing forwards to the outside and has a very active stick. He has been known to drop the gloves, but in the fight I saw, he wouldn’t make the late Derek Boogaard blush with his technique.

Hague shows real promise as a potential NHL talent in the top-4, as long as he develops that skating technique and ability, he should have a good career.

Nicolas Hague Career Stats

Season Team League GP G A TP PIM
Season Team League GP G A TP PIM
2012-2013 Kitchener Jr. Rangers Mn Mgt AAA AHMMPL 2 0 0 0 0
2013-2014 Kitchener Jr. Rangers Mn Mgt AAA AHMMPL 31 3 13 16 44
Kitchener Jr. Rangers Mn Mgt AAA OHL Cup 4 3 0 3 12
Team ALLIANCE OGC-16 5 0 1 1 4
Kitchener Jr. Rangers Midget AAA AHMPL 3 1 1 2 0
2014-2015 Team Black U17-Dev 3 1 0 1 4
Kitchener Dutchmen GOJHL 43 3 8 11 70
Canada White U17 WHC-17 5 2 0 2 4
2015-2016 Team Red U18-Dev 3 0 0 0 4
Mississauga Steelheads OHL 66 14 10 24 84
Canada U18 WJC-18 7 0 2 2 4
2016-2017 Mississauga Steelheads OHL 65 18 28 46 107
OHL All-Stars Jr Super Series 2 0 0 0 2
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How He’d Fit the Wild

The Wild need are in a position where they need to take the best player available. Nicolas Hague is a real defensive talent, and the Wild lack much behind the guys already in the NHL and top pairing in Iowa. A big guy with a heavy shot, one that compared to Blues defender Colton Parayko could help them on both ends of the ice and shore up that lack of depth at the position in the organization.

How Does the Wild Acquire the Pick?

You’d hate to deal any assets within the division to a team you face five times in the regular season and in the first or second round of the playoffs. Even more painful would be sending assets to the head coach you used to have but fired. If the Wild really values someone enough at 27, they could offer the 2017 4th round pick they received in the Martin Hanzal trade, a 2018 3rd round pick, and a minor league player like Mario Lucia. In my opinion, no trade to the Blues makes sense at this point in time.