We end our 2nd round profiles with the Brandon Wheat Kings’ Kale Clague. I’m going to admit now that I’m not sure if Clague will be available when the Devils pick, but there’s always a chance he slides down draft boards. He was very reliable for Brandon this year, and was one of the team’s top defensemen. He recently helped Brandon win the WHL Championship, thus securing a Memorial Cup spot. Let’s take a deeper look at Clague below.
From: Regina, SK, CAN
Weight: 179 lbs
Bob McKenzie Mid-Season: 37th
Craig Button: 33rd
The Draft Analyst: 33rd
NHL Central Scouting: 27th (NA Skaters)
McKeen’s Hockey: 30th
By looking at these rankings, it’s seems like Clague won’t be around for the Devils in the 2nd round unless they trade up or trade down with their first. I’m sure McKenzie will have him ranked a little higher in his final rankings. He could end up being a late 1st/early 2nd round pick. Draft Site has him going to 27th in their mock draft, and The Draft Analyst has him going 44th in their mock.
Clague doesn’t have amazing numbers, but still decent nonetheless. He put up 43 points in 71 games, which was good for third among Wheat Kings defense. He really stepped his game up in the WHL playoffs, putting up 14 points in 21 games. That put him in first among Wheat Kings defense in playoff scoring. This is probably why his draft stock is rising, and could be the reason he is gone before the Devils have a chance to pick him up. He was also the captain of the Canada Black U17 at the U17 World Hockey Challenge.
Zenon Herasymiuk, Future Considerations:
“Clague is possibly the most purely talented defenseman I have seen come down the pipe in the last few years. He has soft hands and a powerful stride which he uses to dynamically transition the puck and create offense for his team. He has a big, booming shot, poise and an electric skill set which make him difficult to contain when he has space and a threat to create offense at all times. He has the potential to be one of the top defenseman in the entire draft class.”
A ton of praise from Future Considerations here. Saying that someone is a the most purely talented defenseman in years is a big, big compliment. According to Future Considerations, Clague has great offensive tools. Soft hands, powerful stride, and booming shot are all things you like to hear about a potential defenseman. Future Considerations sees him as a potential top defenseman from this draft, so only time will tell if that’s correct.
Curtis Joe, Elite Prospects:
“An offensive defenseman in nature, Clague is a tantalizing blend of speed, cunning, and craftiness. Very smooth skater that is mobile at a professional level. Great vision and is able to control plays with the puck on his stick. Creative passer. Will need to work on his shot and consistency moving forward, but has the undeniable raw skills and fundamental attributes of a puck-moving offensive defenseman. All-in-all, a highly skilled defenseman that has the potential to be a proficient producer from the back end.”
Curtis Joe don’t praise Clague as much as Future Considerations, but he does say positive things about the defenseman. Joe from Elite Prospects mentions how he needs to work on his shot and consistency, but he has the raw tools to become a very good puck-moving defenseman. He did praise his skating and passing abilities, though. Joe ends by pointing out that Clague could become a proficient producer, which falls in line with what Future Considerations said.
Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst:
A wiry two-way blueliner with quickness and an exceptional understanding of his position, Clague had a strong enough second half to finish among the WHL’s top scoring draft-eligible rearguards. Even more impressive is that he did so without the benefit of logging big minutes, as he took a back seat to older prospects Ivan Provorov and Macoy Erkamps. The Wheaties may be a stacked team, but there were periods when Clague was the back end’s calming presence, which in our view says a lot about his upside. He can break out with hard, accurate stretch passes or a smooth, calculated rush up ice.”
There are a few things that I want to touch on from Steve’s assessment of Clague. First is that he has understands defense. Knowing your position is important, and shows good hockey IQ. Second is that he had the season he had without logging top minutes. He played for a clearly stacked team in Brandon, and he managed to put up 43 points without seeing top defensive minutes. The final thing is how he was a calming presence for Brandon. On a team that has a defenseman like Ivan Provorov, that’s a pretty big deal.
Scoring Line’s Opinion
I don’t think Clague slides down to 41, but that doesn’t mean the Devils won’t have the chance to draft him. Trades do happen in the draft. The Devils could trade down in the 1st round and pick up a high 2nd in the process, or they could trade up in the 2nd to draft him. I’m not saying they should do either of these, especially trade down with the 11th overall pick, but it’s a possibility. If he does end up falling to 41, I think the Devils should take him. He’s a very solid defenseman, and he has the potential to be one of the better from this draft. He should see top pairing minutes next year, so it’ll be interesting to see how he progresses. I see Clague as a guy I don’t think the Devils will get, but will be very happy if they end up getting him.
Not much out there for Clague. Here’s a short video of him talking about the WHL Prospect Combine.
(Photo Courtesy of Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)