Welcome to another WHL Best of the 2010s feature where we profile the best WHL players from the 2009-10 season all the way to the 2019-20 season. Players are judged based on what they did in each division. This means if a player spent time in multiple divisions, their placement will be judged based on what they did separately while in each division. Don’t forget to vote on our Twitter page, @WHLonA51 to help determine which player will be crowned the best WHL player of the 2010s. We hope you enjoy.
Kale Clague, a talented and impressive player for the Buffalo Sabres, is no stranger to success. Described as an “offensive defenceman in nature,” Clague has been posting incredible numbers since before his days in the NHL. Playing for the Brandon Wheat Kings (and the Moose Jaw Warriors) in the Western Hockey League was where he got his start. Known for his creativity in plays and skill with the puck, he has made a long-lasting impression in the WHL.
Clague may have had a less than desirable rookie season, suffering a series of injuries that limited him to just twenty games, but he didn’t let it get him down. He continued to work hard with his trainer to prepare for the 2015-2016 season.
The defenceman made an impressive comeback in his second season with the Wheat Kings, increasing his offence and strengthening his defence. He ended the season with 43 points in 71 regular-season games played, and by the end of the playoffs, he tied for second among WHL defencemen in scoring. That same year, Clague played in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, an all-star game format featuring forty of the top NHL Entry Draft eligible prospects in the Canadian Hockey League. As a result of his thrilling second season, he was drafted in the second round, 51st overall, by the LA Kings in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
Clague quickly established himself as a strong leader, someone to keep an eye on, on and off the ice. He was named an alternate captain for the 2016-2017 season and kept the title during his time playing for the Wheat Kings. In his third season, his final full season with Brandon, he had 40 points in 48 games. At the season start, he earned WHL Player of the Week after registering 6 points in his first two games of the season.
His thrilling and skillful play was recognized yet again in 2017 when he signed with the LA Kings. At the time of signing, he led team defencemen in both points and assists, and was only second in goals. That year he was also named a WHL Eastern Conference First Team All-Star, the only player on the Wheat Kings to be awarded this title.
Not only was he recognized for his achievements on the Wheat Kings, but Clague also turned heads as an alternate captain for Team Canada in 2017, winning silver with the team at the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships.
In the 2017-2018 season, Clague continued to prove himself one of the best defencemen, if not players, on the Wheat Kings. He recorded a remarkable 47 points in 28 games, averaging roughly 1.6 points a game and tying defenceman David Quenneville for league scoring among WHL defencemen.
Clague played with the Wheat Kings until January 17, 2018, when he was fatefully traded to the Moose Jaw Warriors, shocking WHL fans across the country. His performance didn’t falter, however, and he ended his season – and WHL career – with 24 points in 26 games with the Warriors. Overall, he had 167 points in 193 total games played.
Kale Clague is one of the most talented and valuable defencemen to have played in the Western Hockey League, recording incredible and memorable numbers, and impressing many with cunning and clever plays.