While Jason Robertson takes most of the headlines regarding unsigned restricted free agents at this point, there are a number of other players still waiting to see if they’ll be under contract when training camp opens next week. One of those is Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Nic Hague, who, according to David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period on Thursday, was no closer to a deal. Hague is in Vegas but will likely return home if there is no deal at the start of camp, Pagnotta adds.
This isn’t a surprise, as the news all offseason has been pointing at a significant divide between the Golden Knights and the RFA defenseman. A week ago, reports emerged that the two sides had had “very little dialogue since early July.”
Like any negotiation, things can swing quickly with a single phone call. In this case specifically, it’s hard to see how sitting on the sidelines will benefit the 23-year-old.
Hague has played in 142 games through parts of three seasons, scoring ten goals and 14 points. But given the fact that the Golden Knights already have six defensemen signed to one-way contracts, and young players like Kaedan Korczak (or even junior superstar Lukas Cormier) ready to push for NHL minutes, there is a chance that the team will find ways to fill the lineup without him.
It’s that leverage, along with the fact that Vegas is perpetually in a salary cap crunch, that makes it a difficult situation for Hague. There is no one really doubting his talent but with relatively low offensive totals, a recent injury history, and the team’s financial situation, landing a multi-year deal for a significant raise seems unlikely.
As with any unsigned RFA, Hague will need to have a deal in place by December 1 in order to play this season.