2020-21 Team: HC Nove Zamky (#55) on loan from Barrie Colts
Date of Birth: Feb. 9, 2003
Place of Birth: Ottawa, ON, Canada
Ht: 6-foot-2 Wt: 190 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
NHL Central Scouting: 7th (amongst NA skaters)
The Hockey Writers (Zator): 5th
The Hockey Writers (Baracchini): 3rd
The Hockey Writers (Forbes): 5th
Dobber Prospects: 6th
Craig Button, TSN: 2nd
Bob McKenzie, TSN: 6th
Sam Cosentino, Sportsnet: 3rd
It was an off-year for most players involved in all leagues around the world. For Brandt Clarke it wasn’t any different. Scheduled to play for the OHL’s Barrie Colts, his home league never got underway due to COVID restrictions and Clarke was forced to find an opportunity elsewhere. In this case, he landed in Slovakia where he suited up in 26 games for HC Nove Zamky – scoring five goals and 15 points and totalling 41 penalty minutes over that span.
Related: THW 2021 NHL Draft Guide
What could set Clarke ahead of other defensive prospects in this draft is the fact that he’s a right-handed defenceman – a position sought after by a number of teams. That, on top of the fact that he’s a mobile defenceman who isn’t afraid to create and join the rush, and you’re looking at a defensive prospect that could push the boundaries of what some teams will expect from him.
His skating is exceptional. He has a good first-step and can reach top speed quicker than many of the other top defensive prospects in this draft. He’s quick on his edges and can make defensive plays before turning the puck back up ice on a dime.
Defensively, he has some room to grow. His speed helps him in puck battles and racing opponents to the loose puck. Still, he can have lapses in his own end at times and that will simply come with developing his game at the professional level against men. While that could be one of the few things that Clarke can be criticized for, it’s not enough to turn teams away.
In fact, his offensive ability and size combine to make him a very solid pick in the top five of the 2021 NHL Draft. Depending on how well he develops the rest of his game, Clarke could be a top pairing defenceman at some point in his career. He’s a talent that could potentially be a game-changer for a franchise and has shown ability in all facets of the game. What it will come down to is how well he can continue to grow with the pressure of being a top-five pick looming over him.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Brandt Clarke – NHL Draft Projection
With Power stealing a lot of the attention when it comes to defensemen in this draft, Clarke seems to be the second coming in this draft. For most, he’s ranked in the top five. And while some have him sliding to sixth or seventh overall, Clarke will be a top-10 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft without a doubt. The likelihood is, still, that he will be a top five pick depending on whether or not teams look at him or Luke Hughes as the better option.
“Smarts and sound decision making are both qualities that Clarke can reveal throughout the entirety of his shifts. He’s a confident, decisive puck carrier who constantly scans the ice to his front and rear regardless of whether or not he has the puck.” – Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst
“The most noticeable part of Clarke’s game is how poised he is, especially with the puck. His composure is remarkable for a player his age, rarely being pressured into turnovers and walking the blueline with confidence. He is an excellent passer and patient with the puck. Clarke has great instincts, and will anticipate his teammates and opponents’ moves before unloading the puck, whether through a pass or by shot.” – Lauren Kelly, Raw Charge
“With Brandt Clarke, you can expect a defender that plays the rush extremely well, blocks lanes and pushes the attack to the corners. Clarke gets in your face, gives you as little room as possible and looks for the best moment to pounce on the puck. But, what I really like about Clarke is that you can’t read him like an open book. With every situation, there is a different strategy with Clarke. You can not predict when Clarke will pounce and there is no way of telling how Clarke will try to strip the puck away from you.” – Josh Tessler, Smaht Scouting
- Puck battles
- Offensive prowess
- Hockey IQ
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
The biggest questions in his game are around his defensive zone coverage and the consistency in which he plays with in his own end. Aside from that, all things point to him being a top five pick, but given the right opportunities, he could definitely find improvement in his in-zone defensive coverage.
Risk – 2/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 7.5/10, Defence – 7/10
Clarke has enjoyed a winning culture for some time. He was a member of the GTHL’s U15 Championship team in 2017-18 and followed that up in 2018-19 by winning the GTHL again at the U16 level – including being named to the OHL Cup All-Star Team as well as taking home the OHL Cup.
In 2019-20 he was named to the OHL’s first all-rookie team and secured the most assists by a rookie that season with 32. He closed out 2020-21 by being named to the U18 World Junior Championship All-Star Team, en route to helping Canada secure a gold medal in the tournament.