Blake Clarke THW Close-up:
Team: Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
Birthdate: January 26, 1996
Hometown: Wildwood, MO, USA
Height: 6’1″ Weight: 185lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2014 first year eligible
THW Ranking: 71
So much can change in a year.
In 2013 at this same time, Blake Clarke was being talked about as a first round pick for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and a potential top 15 selection.
As a rookie for the Brampton Battalion he put up 51 points in 68 games and appeared to be on the fast track to success and was graded as an ‘A’ level prospect at the beginning of the 2013-14 season by NHL Central Scouting
The 2013-14 season has not had a similar theme and has been anything but smooth for Clarke, as he failed to build on his first year production.
The team relocated from Brampton to North Bay and the new scene did not seem to be a fit for Clarke. He put up just 3 points in 21 games for the Battalion before being traded to the Saginaw Spirit. There wasn’t much more success there as he produced just 9 points in 33 games.
Few prospects have seen their draft stock fall further than Clarke, and he is now seen as a player who will be selected closer to the end of the draft rather than the beginning.
A shoulder injury suffered at the beginning of the year forced him out of the lineup for over a month and derailed the early part of his season. He never appeared to get back to a comfort zone and it showed in his play. He did show impressive potential however in his rookie season and that means there will still be many scouts who keep an eye on him.
“An offensive-minded player with good instincts for the game, he can create with the puck in his possession and put it into good positions .. a bow-legged skater with a deceptive quality, he has good short-term quickness but only exhibits it below the offensive blue line .. does not play with any type of aggression in either zone and looked apprehensive to engage — always kept plays to the outside, refusing to attack the dirty areas of the ice .. an easy player to play against on the defensive side of the puck as he doesn’t engage in open ice and loses board battles quite regularly .. coasts back into plays and far too often separated himself from the action ..
– McKeen’s Hockey
“Blake is a good-sized wing who can really skate, is strong and fluid, with NHL speed….After a strong rookie season (19 goals, 32 assists in 68 games), he’s been hampered by injuries this season and is slowly working his way back into form. He has a strong shot and that’s something he needs to utilize more.”
“Clarke has good speed, but really shows off his skating skill with his agility, edgework, and ability to change speeds. He has great hockey sense and always seems to make the right play. Equally adept with strong playmaking skills and a good shot, with a quick release, Clarke can play the roles of playmaker or sniper off the wing. He’s not afraid to go to the dirty areas of the ice to score goals, or to carry the puck in traffic, protecting it well with good stickhandling. Not overly physical though. Has a solid frame and could stand to add some muscle this season”
Where He’ll End Up in June:
Once ranked as a safe bet to go in the first round, that no longer appears to be the case. Clarke will go closer to the middle of the draft, likely in the third or fourth round.
- Represented USA at the Youth Olympic Games in 2012
Risk – 3/5 Reward – 3/5
Offensive minded player who has the potential to be a top six forward, however realistically projects more a a depth player who can contribute on the power play
- Hockey Sense
- Quick release
Flaws/Aspects He Needs to Work On:
- Needs to add muscle
- Be more aggressive
- Use size more effectively
Carl covers the Edmonton Oilers for THW as well as providing additional prospect coverage. Follow him on twitter @carlTHW, connect on Facebook or contact at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions, comments or if you’re interested in him writing for you.