DRAFT YEAR PRODUCTION: 33GP, 7G, 15A, 22PTS
RANKING: 7th Ranked North American Skaters - Central Scouting
WHAT'S THE BUZZ:
"He's long been a top player in the age group, thanks to skill that rivals many first-line forwards. If there's an opportunity to join the rush, he does it; if there isn't, he creates one and joins anyway. He's never content to stick to the point." -Mitch Brown, Elite Prospects
CUT TO THE CHASE:
Brandt Clarke, the younger brother of current Devils' prospect Graeme, is an exciting and top-ranked defenseman coming into the draft. Besides being strong on his defensive game, Clarke is known for having strong offensive instincts and skills that allows him to play a complete and 200-foot game. In addition, Clarke's skating is one of his best attributes, which only adds to the full package of the game he will bring to the franchise that drafts him.
With the Ontario Hockey League season cancelled, Clarke went abroad to play for Nove Zamky in Slovakia's top division. This allowed him to play professional hockey against older and more experienced players. During the 26 games he dressed for the club, the blueliner had five goals and 10 assists for 15 points overall. The opportunity to play abroad allowed Clarke to challenge his game and grow at a faster rate than he most likely could have playing in the OHL.
Following his time in Slovakia, Clarke returned to North America to represent his country in the IIHF Uundr-18 World Championship. With two goals and five assists through seven games, Clarke helped Canada win the top prize for the first time since 2013.
During the 2019-20 season, Clarke played for the Barrie Colts in the OHL. Throughout 57 games played, Clarke contributed six goals and 32 assists to end the season with 38 points. His performance in the U18 Worlds and in the OHL shows he can be a dynamic playmaker and defenseman against his peers.
Expect Clarke to be one of the first defensemen off the board in the 2021 Draft. Clarke is someone the Devils could consider, not only to help grow depth in the back end, but to bring a high compete level and offensive ability to the franchise.
For a short period last season, playing for HC Nove Zamky was a Clarke family affair. Brant and his older brother, Graeme, started their 2020-21 seasons together in Slovakia's top division. After six games, Graeme, New Jersey's third-round pick (80th overall) in 2019, left to play in the American Hockey League. Brandt remained in Slovakia for a total of 26 games before he left to represent Canada at the IIHF U18 World Championships.