Prospect Week: Brandt Clarke

by Dan Morse

A mere 47 hours separates the upcoming Seattle Kraken expansion draft and the NHL entry draft. That’s a whole lot of new players headed to Seattle in a short window of time. While the expansion draft will likely dominate NHL coverage, especially in the Seattle area, the Kraken’s first ever entry draft is an equally important moment in shaping the future of the franchise.

Odds are that Buffalo will select defenseman Owen Power with the first pick this year. But that second overall selection, owned by the Kraken, seems much murkier on the surface. Which is why this week, we’ll break down five candidates for the Kraken’s first every draft pick. Today, we’re breaking down one more defenseman.

Brandt Clarke

Clarke is a 6’2″ defender that spent time on both the OHL’s Barrie Colts and in Slovakia’s professional league, the Tipos Extraliga. He racked up 15 points in 26 games in Europe, putting him just a shade under his OHL 0.67 points per game average in 2019-20. His strength is his undeniable offensive skill.

The only real questions with his game is whether or not he’s good enough in his own zone to be a top-pair defender. His power play potential, however, is clearly top-notch.

Aside from the raw offensive talent, here’s two more reasons Clarke would be a good fit in Seattle.

He’s a right-handed shot

If you’re unfamiliar with the importance of this, try thinking of it like a left-handed pitcher in baseball. It’s less common, but very important that a team has a mix of players that play with different dominant hands.

In hockey, there are more left-handed shots than right handed shots. That sounds weird at first glance, I know, but holding a hockey stick isn’t exactly the same natural mechanics as throwing a ball. On defense, having one right-handed shot and one left-handed shot on each pairing is generally considered the norm in the NHL. The reasons behind that are a bit complicated, but it comes down to the fact that keeping the puck in the offensive zone on your strong side is easier than on your weak side. here’s what Fansided’s Walt Gebelein had to say on the subject:

I have seen no metrics on the topic, but just as a matter of mechanics, playing the weak side point, players are less efficient at keeping the puck in the offensive zone. It takes more motion to get the puck in a playable position and attempts to keep the puck in the zone inherently come with more positioning risk.

Which brings us back to Brandt Clarke. Clarke is the top right-hander in this strong defensive class. Ron Francis has been known to pick defensemen early on in round one, but has never had the opportunity to get a right-hander of this caliber. Does he consider it to be a valuable enough trait to bump Clarke up to the second overall pick? We’ll have to wait and see.

He’s already a leader

Something that more frequently comes up in expansion draft discussions rather than entry draft discussions is the aspect of leadership in the locker room. It’s especially important in a new team that won’t have any faces in the locker room that are established leaders of the Seattle Kraken. In addition to the veterans that could bring this presence to the team, Brandt Clarke is not afraid to step up and let his voice be heard.

Playing in the top men’s league in Slovakia, with guys twice his age, Clarke is not intimidated. It’s a small, simple gesture, but it’s also something that not every player has. Clarke could have the makings of the future first captain of the Seattle Kraken.

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