The roller coaster career of Kale Clague continues.
Team officials have confirmed to MayorsManor that the 23-year-old defenseman will be placed on waivers later this morning. It’s just the latest chapter in what’s been a wild ride for Clague, who was originally selected by LA in the second round of the 2016 NHL Draft.
After turning pro in 2018, he went on to become an AHL All Star with the Ontario Reign and eventually made his NHL debut on December 21, 2019 in Buffalo. This season, he has played in 11 games for the Kings, recording five assists.
He’s also been through a series of ups and downs along the way — including seeing his NHL debut delayed due to breaking his foot the night before he was to be called up in March 2019, he was left exposed in the Seattle Expansion Draft last July, and surprisingly he’s already cleared waivers once this season.
Will he slip through again? The answer will come at 11am PST on Saturday.
When Drew Doughty returned to the Kings lineup this week, something had to give. Even with Sean Walker out for the season, LA was carrying eight defensemen (Doughty, Anderson, Roy, Edler, Bjornfot, Maatta, Durzi, and Clague). That left one of the latter three as the likely odd man out once team officials were ready to trim back to the normal seven blueliners on the NHL roster. Durzi would have been the easiest move, as he wouldn’t require waivers to be sent down. However, he’s done enough to impress since being called up that management opted to go a different direction.
Clague joined us on Kings Of The Podcast recently, in part to discuss the challenges he’s faced, as well as the mindset needed to overcome those hurdles and remain focused on his dream of becoming a full-time NHL player. That episode is linked below for your reference.
On the flip side, with only 12 healthy forwards at the moment, due to Andreas Athanasiou still in protocol and Brendan Lemieux two games into a five-game suspension, LA will likely look to add at least one forward to the group in preparation for their upcoming road trip to Edmonton and Vancouver.
Alex Turcotte and Vladimir Tkachev would be considered two of the leading candidates for such a recall.
One of the Kings top prospects, Turcotte has recorded 10 points (3G, 7A) in 16 games with the Ontario Reign thus far. Last year, in the AHL’s abbreviated season, Turcotte was among the team leaders in points-per-game, recording .66 PPG — slightly better than Quinton Byfield’s .63 and Akil Thomas’ .65 PPG.
When T.J. Tynan was called up to LA for their last road trip, Turcotte moved from being Ontario’s second line center to the 1C position. In their most recent game on Wednesday, Turcotte was back at 1C and continued to get plenty of ice time for the Reign. Funny enough, he appeared to have scored his fourth goal of the season in his last game played. However, the scoring was changed after the game, giving credit to Jacob Moverare instead.
If Turcotte will make his actual NHL debut on the trip remains to be seen, as the Kings are still working to sort out their lineup over the past few games. At a the very minimum, it will be good for Turcotte’s development to spend some time around the NHL club and become familiar with some of the routines.
Tkachev’s situation is a bit different.
Originally signed by the Kings as a free agent out of the KHL, Tkachev was impressive during training camp and then played in four NHL games this season before being assigned to AHL Ontario at the end of October. In nine games played for the Reign, Tkachev has recorded 11 points (1G, 10A). This past Wednesday, he was moved to the top line for the first time.
As noted previously, his contract does come with a European Assignment Clause and there is a lot more money waiting for the 26-year-old forward in Russia. However, from what we hear, he’s very interested in playing in the NHL again this season and is willing to keep working on the areas LA would like to see him improve on — including puck battles and becoming a dominate factor on the power play (which would most likely be his NHL niche should be ever become a full-time player). Coming into the season, the hope was that he’d be able to secure a spot on the second line with Phil Danault, who could provide some defensive protection for the elusive speedster.
While not confirmed to us, we would expect Tkachev to return to the KHL if he can’t secure a spot on the Kings roster over the next month or so.
Jared Anderson-Dolan, Gabe Vilardi, Martin Frk, Tyler Madden, and Sammy Fagemo would likely round out the list of other strong contenders.
4pm Friday – new article posted here with several updates
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