Michael Hage is just hitting his stride

Hage emerged as one of the USHL's best players down the stretch, perhaps indicative of a big rise ahead.
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft, First Round
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft, First Round / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens got the two players they wanted in the first round of the 2024 draft, Ivan Demidov and Michael Hage.

Their hopes are that Hage develops into a top six NHL talent and given his skillset, it seems likely. Hage can do it all and he just continues to get better and develop into a dominant offensive player. He feels like the exact type of player that makes a lot of sense for the Habs - a player who is still growing and will be one of the best in a few years.

If what he did this season was him just getting started, then it appears that he has quite a way to go in his development. I have seen comparisons to Jack Eichel, because he skates upright and handles the puck similarly. He uses a longer stick and pulls off moves into his feet, which throws off defenders.

It will be harder for him to do the same thing against professional-level competition and stronger goalies and defences. But Hage will have plenty of room to grow, while playing at the University of Michigan for next year, and perhaps beyond. But given his skillset and competitiveness, I think he will translate his high-octane style and adapt to the next level.

Hage provides Canadiens with future top six potential

If all things go right, Hage has a real shot at slotting into the top six, opposite Nick Suzuki or Kirby Dach, in a role that will help push the Habs offence. Hage has a great all-around game in the offensive zone and having a great passer will put his shooting skills on display. But his playmaking prowess will also be put to work with linemates who exhibit a shoot-first mentality.

Hage's freshman season in the NCAA with the Wolverines will be a good measuring test of where he is at, and with the right guidance, he should be able to make the best of it. Playing against players, some as many as six or seven years older than him will challenge him. But how he handles the pressure and adapts will tell how high his growth potential is.