There are just a handful of restricted free agent negotiations still going on and at least one of them doesn’t appear to be headed to the finish line. According to Jeff Marek of Sportsnet, Nicolas Hague has left Vegas and will start training with the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers tomorrow, the junior team located in his hometown.
Hague, 23, has played 142 games in his NHL career to this point, but hasn’t yet cracked the 19-minute mark for average time on ice. That’s because of the huge minutes that players like Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore log, keeping Hague buried deeper in the lineup than perhaps he could be somewhere else. With the Golden Knights also not in a place to spend much on a multi-year deal because of their cap situation, it’s a difficult needle to thread.
Still, skating with a junior team is certainly not NHL training camp, meaning whenever he does sign, Hague is going to be behind the rest of his competition. As we’ve seen in the past, players who miss training camp are usually slow starters. In the case of a player like William Nylander, who sat out the first part of the season, it was basically a lost year.
Generally, these negotiations are completed by the time the season starts, and with Vegas’ long-term injured reserve issues, they will have more flexibility just before training camp ends. But at this point, it doesn’t seem as though you’ll see the young defenseman on the ice with his teammates for a little while.