There's no doubt about it, the Vegas Golden Knights have been THE story of an incredibly entertaining NHL season. Forget about Scott Foster and his crazy 15 minutes of fame, forget about the Erik Karlsson rumors, forget about Auston Matthews' goal signal celebration... all of it pales in comparison to the miracle run that Vegas has managed in their inaugural campaign. This team, thrown together during a June evening in 2017, is just four wins away from becoming Stanley Cup champions. Remarkable.
Set to face off against the Washington Capitals in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final tomorrow evening, the Golden Knights got some more good news yesterday afternoon. Nicolas Hague, the team’s second round pick (34th overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, has been named the Canadian Hockey League’s Defenceman of the Year for 2017-18.
The 6’5”, 215 pound, smooth skating blue liner put up a remarkable 35 goals and 78 points in 67 games for the Ontario Hockey League’s Mississauga Steelheads this past season. That’s quite a leap from the 18 goals and 46 points he put up during his draft year in 2016-17.
Between Hague and the team’s three first round picks, Cody Glass at 6th overall, Nick Suzuki at 13th overall and Erik Brannstrom at 15th overall, Vegas has an absolutely LOADED prospect pipeline. As if this team wasn’t good enough already!
Vegas general manager George McPhee prioritized the Entry Draft as part of his strategy for building the Knights, selecting 12 players in his inaugural draft with the NHL’s newest franchise. The four young players chosen early in the draft certainly seem to be on the fast track to strong NHL career.
Hague faced some strong competition for this year’s award particularly from London Knights captain Evan Bouchard, Chicago Blackhawks prospect Henri Jokiharju and top rated 2018 Draft prospect Noah Dobson. In the end though, Hague’s incredible point production, combined with his defensive ability and smooth skating style earned him the honor of being award the CHL’s top defenceman for 2017-18. Congratulations Nic and congratulations, Vegas fans. Somehow, someway… this team just continued to strike gold.