A former second-round pick in 2016, Clague had five assists in 11 NHL games this season. He hadn’t played since November 21 before being placed on waivers on Saturday, and Montreal, who was fourth in the waiver wire, picked up the 23-year-old after defenseman Jeff Petry was sidelined indefinitely with an upper-body injury.
The move was Jeff Gorton’s first transaction since taking over as the new executive vice-president of hockey operations in Montreal.
“I’m a two-way, puck-moving defenseman,” Clague said of himself. “I use my skating – it’s probably my biggest asset – but yeah, just my vision, my skating get the puck in the forwards’ hands and let them do the rest. You know, I’m still 23. I feel like I’m pretty young, and you know, I feel like I’m ready to take the next steps and become a full-time guy. So I like where my game is that, and I’m really excited to get going here.”
The Regina, SK native was a standout defenseman in the WHL, tallying 11 goals and 60 assists between the Brandon Wheat Kings and the Moose Jaw Warriors during the 2017-18 campaign. He earned the Bill Hunter Trophy as the league’s top defenseman.
In his first season with the Ontario Reign of the AHL, Clague had seven goals and 29 points in 52 games.
He was playing well this season after returning to the AHL on a couple of occasions to improve his defensive abilities, but the coaching staff seemed to prefer Olli Maatta over the young defenseman. Now, the former LA King is likely to draw in on Tuesday when the Canadiens host the Tampa Bay Lightning.
You can listen to his full media presser below:
— NHL Jersey Numbers (@NHLNewNumbers) December 6, 2021