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Top 2016 draft prospect Clague named to Team WHL

by Adam Kimelman

Kale Clague, a top prospect for the 2016 NHL Draft, was among the 20 players invited to play for Team WHL against Team Russia in the 2015 CHL Canada-Russia Series.

Team WHL will play Team Russia in the first two games of the series, Nov. 9 in Kelowna, British Columbia, and Nov. 10 in Kamloops, British Columbia. The games are used by Hockey Canada as an evaluation tool for picking the team that will play for Canada at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Clague, a 5-foot-11, 177-pound left-shot defender who plays for the Brandon Wheat Kings, earned an A rating from NHL Central Scouting in its September players to watch list. In nine games this season he has five assists and a plus-8 rating. He had four goals and nine assists in 20 games last season. He also had one goal in four games to help Canada win the gold medal at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in August.


GOALTENDERS: Carter Hart, Everett (2016 NHL Draft eligible); Zachary Sawchenko, Moose Jaw (2016 NHL Draft eligible)

DEFENSEMEN: Kale Clague, Brandon (2016 NHL Draft eligible); Haydn Fleury, Red Deer (Carolina Hurricanes); Brendan Guhle, Prince Albert (Buffalo Sabres); Joe Hicketts, Victoria (Detroit Red Wings);  Noah Juulsen, Everett (Montreal Canadiens); Travis Sanheim, Calgary (Philadelphia Flyers)

FORWARDS: Mathew Barzal, Seattle (New York Islanders); Conner Bleackley, Red Deer (Colorado Avalanche), Rourke Chartier, Kelowna (San Jose Sharks); Jake DeBrusk, Swift Current (Boston Bruins), Ryan Gropp, Seattle (New York Rangers); Jansen Harkins, Prince George (Winnipeg Jets); Jayce Hawryluk, Brandon (Florida Panthers); Nicholas Merkley, Kelowna (Arizona Coyotes); Nolan Patrick, Brandon (2017 NHL Draft eligible); Brayden Point, Moose Jaw (Tampa Bay Lightning); Brett Pollock, Edmonton (Dallas Stars); John Quenneville, Brandon (New Jersey Devils)

Also selected were two goaltenders who earned B ratings from Central Scouting for the 2016 draft: Carter Hart of the Everett Silvertips and Zachary Sawchenko of the Moose Jaw Warriors. In six games Hart (6-foot, 177) is 4-2-0 with a 2.87 goals-against average and .911 save percentage. Hart also was part of Canada's gold-medal team at the Hlinka, with a 1.50 GAA and .903 save percentage in two games. Sawchenko (6-foot, 178) is 5-0-2 with a 2.67 GAA and .924 save percentage in seven games.

Team WHL also will have Brandon forward Nolan Patrick on the team. The 6-2, 190-pound center, who is eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft, has three goals and 11 points in seven games. He tied for the lead on Canada at the Hlinka Cup with three goals and five points in four games.

Patrick is the nephew of former NHL defenseman and current Dallas Stars assistant coach James Patrick

Four players picked in the first round of the 2015 draft are on the roster: Forwards Jake DeBrusk (Boston Bruins, No. 14), Mathew Barzal (New York Islanders, No. 15) and Nicholas Merkley (Arizona Coyotes, No. 30), and defenseman Noah Juulsen (Montreal Canadiens, No. 26).

Also four players picked in the first round of the 2014 draft were picked: Defenseman Haydn Fleury (Carolina Hurricanes, No. 7) and Travis Sanheim (Philadelphia Flyers, No. 17), and forwards Connor Bleackley (No. 23, Colorado Avalanche) and John Quenneville (New Jersey Devils, No. 30).

In addition, Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen, the sixth pick of the 2014 draft, will be on the team if the Canucks if he is sent back to his junior team prior to the start of the series.

Victoria Royals coach Dave Lowry, who also will coach Canada at the 2016 WJC, will coach Team WHL for both games. Brandon Wheat Kings coach Kelly McCrimmon and Kamloops Blazers coach Don Hay will be Team WHL assistant coaches. McCrimmon also will be an assistant coach for Canada at the WJC.

The roster for Team QMJHL, the final stop on the six-game Canada-Russia Series tour, was named last week. Rosters for Team OHL and Team Russia will be released at a later date.


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