The Los Angeles Kings have gotten into the entry-level contract fun. The team has signed both Kale Clague and Austin Wagner to three-year, entry-level deals. Both players are coming to the end of their CHL seasons, and will now start on their professional journey.
Clague was the Kings’ second-round pick in the 2016 draft, and is another in the growing trend of slightly-undersized but tremendously skilled defenders. Finally out of the shadow of Ivan Provorov for the Brandon Wheat Kings, he has become the team’s top defender and produced like it all season. 38 points in 43 games during what has been a shortened season due to injury and the World Juniors, Clague is one of the best skaters in his draft class and can move the puck efficiently and calmly under pressure.
For the Kings, he represents the next piece in the pipeline they’ve created for defenders. While he may not get to the NHL for a few more seasons, the future looks bright for the 18-year old. His development is made all that more important for the club since they dealt Eric Cernak away to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Ben Bishop.
Wagner was a fourth-round selection in 2015, and has continued to put up solid point numbers for the Regina Pats. His 60 points in 58 games represent a career-high pace, but it’s his strong defensive work that stands out for scouts when watching him. Responsible in his own end and willing to use his size on the forecheck, his offensive upside may be limited at the next level. He’ll turn 20 this summer and will debut with the Ontario Reign of the AHL next season.