To say it’s a big year for Brandt Clarke would be an understatement.
Among the top-ranked defencemen ahead of the 2021 NHL Draft, the Barrie Colts rearguard will surely be under the microscope when the OHL returns to action as talent evaluators get their latest look at his evolving game and continue to assess what makes him an intriguing talent.
Chosen fourth overall in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection, Clarke lived up to lofty expectations in his first season with Barrie, posting six goals and 32 assists for 38 points in only 57 games to lead all Colts defencemen in scoring.
The younger brother of Ottawa 67’s forward and New Jersey Devils prospect Graeme Clarke, Brandt reflected on his rookie season, the pressures that come with a draft year, and more in the latest edition of the CHL Sunday Spotlight presented by WINMAR:
What was the biggest adjustment going from minor midget to the OHL?
The biggest adjustment for me between minor midget and the OHL is just the speed and intelligence of all of the players. We have got all of the best junior hockey players from across Ontario and they are all very skilled and they were all top minor midget players. All players across the league, if you’re not paying attention, can make you look foolish, so that has probably been the biggest adjustment.
How do you evaluate your rookie season with the Colts?
I felt like my rookie season in the OHL went pretty well. I started off pretty slow but once I got my feet under me I felt pretty comfortable and I felt that I showed myself pretty well. It was also nice to be a contributing player on a good, up-and-coming team.
What is your best strength as a player and how have you worked to develop this?
I feel like my strongest attribute is my elusiveness. It’s just something that I feel like I have always had, and I worked on edges a lot when I was younger so I feel like that really gave me the ability to get out of corners quickly and make shifty moves on defenders.
What is it like to be recognized as a top player by NHL Central Scouting?
Being ranked highly by NHL Central Scouting is a really good feeling and it is always nice to be recognized, but I know that there is still a lot of work to put in so I don’t lose my positioning on the rankings.
Which NHL player do you model your game after?
Players in the NHL that I model my game after are Erik Karlsson and John Klingberg. Erik Karlsson by the way he can skate up the ice and make plays in the offensive zone but also be back and play good defensively, and John Klingberg by the way he can walk the blue line and get shots through almost every single time.