Despite having only four picks to work with entering Saturday’s second day of the NHL Draft, the Kings opted to use their first selection of the weekend (51st overall) to take WHL defenseman Kale Clague of the Brandon Wheat Kings. He’s a 5-foot-11 blueliner who is said to have great offensive instincts and a big shot. His skating is above average, as well. Clague was listed by TSN’s Bob McKenzie as his 30th best prospect available in this year’s draft and NHL Central Scouting had him No. 27 among North American skaters. The offensive defenseman just completed his first full year of major junior hockey this past season; a solid year with an even better playoffs.
Here is what the International Scouting Service had to say in their annual Draft Guide:
Clague is a smooth skating defender that isn’t shy to join the rush when given the opportunity to do so. He is a very strong skater with excellent mobility which allows him to beat a forechecker by himself. His defensive game has improved since the beginning of the season and he has really simplified his game. He has very good skills and a hard, accurate shot from the point. When he uses his skating ability to full advantage, he’s a very dynamic player. He makes good decisions with the puck, but can get into trouble when he tries to be too creative or when making plays stationary. His puck retrievals are getting better by being simple and quick. Still an offensive weapon with a cannon of a shot.
ISS Western Canada Head Scout Brent Parker: “Explosive skater who can recover from mistakes and track down opposing players – great agility but sometimes gets happy feet and is dancing around to much – make’s a great first pass that is crisp and flat.”
ISS Scout Marc Berry: “Still a top prospect in my opinion. A high risk, high reward player, but the rewards are worth it. His skating ability, puck handling and creativity are high end. Played on Brandon’s second pairing behind Erkamps and Provorov. Excels on the power play. Size and strength still need to develop to be an everyday NHL player.”
NHL Potential: 2nd pairing defender who can add some offensive upside.
From an NHL.com article previewing the 2016 Memorial Cup:
NHL Central Scouting’s John Williams, who specializes in prospects from the WHL, believes Clague has plenty of NHL potential as an offensive-defenseman. Clague is No. 27 on Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters eligible for the 2016 draft. … “He’s an excellent skater,” Williams said. “And while [teammate Ivan] Provorov (Philadelphia Flyers) is the guy on defense for Brandon, Kale’s the secondary guy. He plays within their system, the way they want him to play.”
NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr said he believes Clague has the potential to move up on NHL draft boards if he puts his mind to improving his overall game. “Clague’s skating is strong and he can elude defenders while being checked or start an offensive play,” Marr said. “He has excellent vision when moving the puck, makes a solid first pass out of the zone and is a composed player who makes good choices under pressure.”
In a 2013 article for The Hockey News, Clague said he tries to model his game after Drew Doughty.
Text from a hockey agent who knows Claguewell (but doesn't rep him), says Kings picked smooth skating offensive guy and great kid off ice.
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