Golden Knights assign Nic Hague to AHL, down to 8 defensemen in camp

Hague is heading to Chicago, which means it looks to be time for the Erik Brannstrom Show.

The Vegas Golden Knights have assigned Nic Hague to the Chicago Wolves, the team announced Sunday, inching toward a reality that Erik Brannstrom will be on the opening day roster.

Hague’s release brings Vegas down to eight defensemen remaining in camp — Brayden McNabb, Colin Miller, Deryk Engelland, Nick Holden, Brad Hunt, Jake Bischoff, Jon Merrill, and Brannstrom. General manager George McPhee has said before he’d like to have eight defensemen on opening night.

Vegas also announced the assignment of Keegan Kolesar to Chicago.

Hague, the reigning OHL Defensman of the Year, had a solid camp (two goals, two assists) in leading all Vegas defensemen in ice time with 22:17.

Throughout the course of camp, Hague looked to be the most ready of the two prospect defensemen, knowing the Golden Knights might have to carry one of them into the season opener Oct. 4 against the Philadelphia Flyers. Hague is an offensive-minded defenseman and showed glimpses of his unique skillset at 6-foot-6. The knock on him was how would he respond to the physicality in the defensive zone, and in most cases, he looked solid.

But the Golden Knights clearly know they have something special with Brannstrom. The Swedish youngster has played all four Vegas preseason games, scoring two goals and tallying two assists.

He also does things that don’t show up on the statsheet. For instance: Watch this goal for the hundredth time.

Every time Brannstrom touches the ice, something special happens. Even if it doesn’t show up in the stat sheet after, his steady improvement at 19 years old has put Vegas in a unique predicament — one that’s absolutely worthy of making happen.

That isn’t to say Hague won’t be special when he reaches the NHL level — the thought of him on the power play is crazy — but right now, Brannstrom appears to be the guy Vegas wants to go with in the midst of Nate Schmidt’s suspension and Shea Theodore’s lack of contract.

The Brannwagon is a real thing. All aboard.