Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Vegas Golden Knights prospect Nicolas Hague of the Mississauga Steelheads is the 2017-18 recipient of the Max Kaminsky Trophy awarded annually to the OHL’s Most Outstanding Defenceman of the Year.
Hague becomes the first Steelhead in all-time franchise history to win the award after leading his team in scoring and finishing second among blueliners with 78 points in 67 games including 35 goals and 43 assists. His 78 points set a Steelheads single season record while his 35 goals represent an all-time franchise mark and the most by an OHL defenceman since Chris Allen of the Kingston Frontenacs lit the lamp 38 times in 1997-98.
“I am extremely excited and proud to win this award,” said Hague. “It is an honour to be recognized among all the other great defencemen we have in our league. I would like to thank my teammates, coaches and management in Mississauga. Without them this wouldn’t have been possible. Most of all I’d like to thank my parents and billet family for their constant support all season long.”
Hague produced 26 multi-point performances in 2017-18 and finished the regular season campaign with a career-high 11-game point-streak. His 15 power play goals led all defencemen and tied for fifth overall among the league’s top scorers, while his 270 shots on goal was the eighth highest total among all skaters. He earned OHL Defenceman of the Month honours in both January and March and was unanimously voted Best Offensive Defenceman and atop the Hardest Shot category in the annual Eastern Conference Coaches Poll. Hague also represented Team OHL in the 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series competing in the event for the second straight season.
“The Mississauga Steelheads are very proud of Nic as well as very happy for him being selected as the OHL Defenceman of the Year,” said Steelheads General Manager and Head Coach James Richmond. “Nic has put an enormous amount of work into his development as a player over his three season with the Steelheads so it’s wonderful that he is being rewarded at this time. Nic is not only a great hockey player, he is a wonderful person, a great teammate and we would like to congratulate Nic and his family on such a prestigious award from the OHL.”
A 19-year-old from Kitchener, Ont., Hague was originally chosen by the Steelheads in the second round of the 2014 OHL Priority Selection. The alternate captain played three full seasons for the Trout appearing in 198 career games accumulating 148 points including 67 goals and 81 assists. He was named to the league’s Second All-Rookie Team in 2015-16 season and was also named OHL Scholastic Player of the Year. Last season he helped the Steelheads hoist the Bobby Orr Trophy as Eastern Conference Champions before being selected by Vegas in the second round of the 2017 NHL Draft. In September he signed his entry-level contract with the Golden Knights.
The Max Kaminsky Trophy is awarded each year to the Most Outstanding Defenceman as selected by OHL General Managers. All 20 clubs submitted a nominee but were not permitted to vote for their own player. The first round of voting was conducted by conference only with the top three selections from the West and East advancing to form the final ballot. Players received five points for a first place vote, three points for a second place vote, and one point for a third place vote.
Hague received 67 points in the final voting process narrowly edging 2018 NHL Draft prospect Evan Bouchard of the London Knights who finished second with 65 voting points. Sean Durzi of the Owen Sound Attack finished in third place with 29 voting points.
Past winners of the award since 1970 include Craig Hartsburg (Sault Ste. Marie 1977), Larry Murphy (Peterborough 1980), Al MacInnis (Kitchener 1983), Chris Pronger (Peterborough 1993), Brian Campbell (Ottawa 1999), Marc Staal (Sudbury 2007), Drew Doughty (Guelph 2008), Ryan Ellis (Windsor 2009 and 2011), Dougie Hamilton (Niagara 2012), Ryan Sproul (Sault Ste. Marie 2013), Aaron Ekblad (Barrie 2014), Anthony DeAngelo (Sault Ste. Marie 2015), Mikhail Sergachev (Windsor 2016), and Darren Raddysh (Erie 2017).
The award is named in recognition of Max Kaminsky, who enjoyed a 10-year professional playing career that included four years in the NHL with Ottawa, Boston, and Montreal. After he retired from playing, Kaminsky enjoyed a 15-year coaching career that was capped by winning the Memorial Cup with the St. Catharines Teepees in 1960.
Hague will be formally presented with the Max Kaminsky Trophy at the OHL Awards Ceremony which takes place June 6 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. He will also be the OHL’s nominee for CHL Defenceman of the Year to be announced on May 26 at the 2018 Mastercard Memorial Cup in Regina.