We are less than a month away from the 2021 NHL Entry Draft (July 23-24), so it’s time to start researching the prospects likely to be selected in the first round. The Columbus Blue Jackets currently hold three picks in that round: #5, #24, and #30 or #31.
Team: HC Nove Zamky (Slovakia via Loan)
Date of Birth: February 09, 2003
Birthplace: Ottawa, Ontario
Height: 6’ 2”
Ranked #2 by CONSOLIDATED RANKING
Ranked #4 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM
Ranked #5 by FCHOCKEY
Ranked #5 by NEUTRAL ZONE
Ranked #6 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #2 by TSN/CRAIG BUTTON
Ranked #7 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)
Ranked #3 by SPORTSNET’S
Ranked #2 by RECRUIT SCOUTING
Ranked #6 by DOBBERPROSPECTS
Ranked #2 by DRAFT PROSPECTS HOCKEY
Ranked #5 by SMAHT SCOUTING
Ranked #2 by THE PUCK AUTHORITY
Ranked #6 by TSN/McKenzie
Games Played: 26
Pale Dragon talked about consensus no. 1 overall draft pick, defenseman Owen Power the other day. While he’s likely heading to the Buffalo Sabres as they possess the top draft pick, another defenseman on the board and is featured today is that of Brandt Clarke. Born in 2003 (that’s just crazy to me) Clarke spent the last hockey season playing in Slovakia for HC Nove Zamky where he piled up the penalty minutes (41) alongside 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in 26 games.
Clarke also put up seven points (two goals, five assists) in seven games for Canada U18 in the World Junior Championship-18.
The Blue Jackets organization is in transition — regardless of what the front office will tell you — and with at least on big defenseman in Seth Jones on his way out the door, it seems like a good idea to stock up on a defenseman if that opportunity presents itself. Not to mention Zach Werenski will have a say in his future in the not-so-distant future.
Clarke plays a free-flowing, fearless, aggressive roving style that keeps opposing players guessing. He looks, at all times, completely unbothered by the stage or the pressure of opposing players. That looseness blends with impressive side-to-side puckhandling skill and mobility which allow him to effortlessly step past coverage in all three zones. He also walks the line as effortlessly as anyone in the draft, constantly maneuvering and changing looks. And while he’s not afraid to try things and that can scare a coach, his ability to execute on the spin-pass or flip-pass that he sees that few others do (or at least that few others are willing to try) is remarkable. It can be difficult to project a player like Clarke, who doesn’t play a pro-style game and isn’t necessarily going to mesh with every coach he encounters, but I love the assertiveness and the skill. When he’s out there, you can’t take your eyes off of him. He’s also an above-average defender who does a good job disrupting play and transitioning back the other way — and who should only improve in his own end as he continues to get stronger.
Here’s an anonymous junior coach on Clarke: “I think that’s the best D I’ve coached against. He’s special.” - Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
Skates well in transition with his head up and can be extremely active on offense; Solid skating mechanics but there are some tune-ups to be made; Excellent balance on his edges and maintains good gaps but not always very physical. - Eric D, On The Forecheck
For those of you with subscriptions to The Athletic here’s a piece by Joshua Kloke and Scott Wheeler (Diary of a draft year, part 2: Brandt Clarke faces odd questions in NHL interviews) providing access and a look into Clarke’s 2021 season.
Jeff Svoboda has Clarke gone at No. 3 which could happen. But if he’s there at No. 5 are you taking him?
#CBJ fans, each year I do a consensus draft poll -- take a bunch of rankings and put them together to get something of an consensus. Not done yet, but 10 rankings in, here's the top 5.— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) June 22, 2021
1. D Owen Power
2. C Matty Beniers
3. D Brandt Clarke
4. D Luke Hughes
5. W William Eklund
Are you drafting Brandt Clarke at No. 5?
This poll is closed
Yes but later if possible