2015-16 Team: Brandon Wheat Kings (#10)
Date of Birth: June 5, 1998
Place of Birth: Regina, SK
Ht: 6’0″ Wt: 180 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2016 first-year eligible
THW The Next Ones Ranking: 33rd (June)
- THW Alternate: 43rd (June)
- THW War Room: 29th (May)
- Future Considerations: unranked (June)
- ISS: unranked (June)
- Bob McKenzie: 50th (June)
- Craig Button: 55th (June)
Kale Clague was drafted into the Western Hockey League with a great deal of fanfare, sixth overall in the 2013 Bantam Draft. After a promising but injury-shortened season as a rookie in 2014-15, he broke through in a major way in 2015-16 for the Brandon Wheat Kings. After figuring out the ins and outs of the WHL, he’s become a much more composed blueliner.
And that’s been a huge help this season for the Wheaties.
Clague’s only real weakness is the offensive side of his game, which is a bit under-developed compared to other tools. Inside his own end, he’s got good situational awareness and is rarely caught out of position. His real strength is his skating, as he can keep up with the vast majority of junior skaters and is able to negate their offensive talents as a result. He’s also quite versatile, as he’s able to excel in a puck-moving game or a physical trench war without losing a step. He’s also incredibly composed on the ice, something he probably learned not only from the tutelage of veteran junior coach Kelly McCrimmon, but also from playing with teammates like Ivan Provorov and Macoy Erkamps. The Wheaties have done a superb job of developing blueliners over recent years, and that’s create a great atmosphere for youngsters to learn in.
Clague sees the ice really well, has good instincts and is becoming more and more comfortable taking charge offensively. He’s likely to need a few years before he’s ready for the NHL, but he’s likely to keep improving in all facets of his game before then. He’s not a finished product quite yet, but what he is right now is already pretty good.
NHL Draft Projection:
Clague will likely go sometime in the early second round, though there’s a chance that a club may fall in love with him and take him in the late first round instead.
“A very smart, effective two-way blueliner. Uses his offensive instincts and hockey sense coupled with his elite skating and vision to create numerous offensive chances. He shows patience with the puck and poise beyond his years. Defensively, his positioning is solid and he gets himself into shooting lanes. Willing to play physical at times and is strong in the transition game.” – Future Considerations
“Kale Clague will need some time to develop, but could be a solid second pairing defenceman with excellent puck moving skills and the ability to quarterback the power play at the NHL level in time. He has already been tested in high pressure situations, and has come out looking great in the process. Clague’s style is reminiscent of Morgan Rielly of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on talent.” – Ben Kerr, Last Word on Sports
- Tremendous on-ice vision and hockey sense.
- Effective passer, and getting more confident as a distributor.
- Excellent skating mobility.
Under Construction (Improvements to Make):
- Plays well physically, but needs to bulk up his frame a bit.
- Needs to work on his shooting a bit.
- Needs to improve his offensive decision-making (in terms of whether to shoot or pass).
Clague projects as a second-pairing defender at the NHL level, with potential first-pairing upside. He could end up as a player in the ilk of Cody Ceci or Justin Braun.
Risk – 1/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Offense 7/10, Defense 8.5/10
Clague represented Canada as captain at the World Under-17 Challenge, and won gold as part of Team Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament.
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.