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FEATURE: Clarke's Poise and Playmaking Stand Out

The 2019 third-round pick has made an impression on the Devils staff through the first two games of the tournament

by Chris Wescott TheChrisWescott / NewJerseyDevils.com

BUFFALO, NY - When the Devils selected Graeme Clarke in the third round of the 2019 NHL Draft, they knew they were getting offensive skill.

Video: POST-GAME RAW | Graeme Clarke

The Ottawa 67's forward potted 23 goals in 55 Ontario Hockey League games last season. And if you tracked his career back to Midget in Toronto, you'd see a 136-point season for the Marlboros AAA team. Devils 2019 first-overall pick Jack Hughes was the lone player to outscore Clarke that year, compiling 159 points of his own.

Clarke, however, blew the league away with a whopping 82 goals. Hughes was second with 58.

This week's Prospects Challenge in Buffalo is an opportunity for Clarke to show off some skill at a higher level, and he did just that on Saturday night.

The Devils prospect scored the lone goal for the club in a 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh's prospects.

Video: HIGHLIGHT | Clarke Goal vs. PIT

"I saw a lane open there and [Jesper Boqvist] found me down the middle and I kind of just placed the shot low-blocker. It was nice to get the goal, but would have wanted the win, for sure."

It wasn't only the goal that stood out. Playing with the highly talented Boqvist helped Clarke show off his tools as the game went along.

"Yeah, he's a great player," Clarke said of his linemate. "We played together at the end of the first game and then to play with him [again] was really good. We can make a lot of plays with our skill and our speed so it is good to play with him."

His growing chemistry with Boqvist and Brandon Gignac was there, and it led to playmaking.

"I felt good," said Clarke. "It helps when your linemates are getting open and calling for the puck and they really did that. [Gignac] and [Boqvist] both were really talking to me out there. It helps a lot for that sort of stuff."

Clarke has made a solid impression on the Devils staff in the first two of three games here in Buffalo.

"He's got a skill set about him," said Coach Mark Dennehy. "I thought he played with poise. We moved him, [Friday] night, onto the right wing from the left wing and I thought we saw a little bit of jump in his game. And so we started him there, and I thought you were able to see his skill, especially on the power play. He's got a lot of poise for a young player."

While it has been a great experience for Clarke to play in the first two games and score that goal, the forward is really just focused on getting one in the win column. The Devils look to do that on Monday when they close out their tournament schedule against Boston at 9:30 a.m. ET.

"I think throwing on the Devils jersey and playing against different NHL organizations is definitely a really good experience and you definitely get chills when you step out there for the first time," he said. "I think now I've kind of settled in and I'm just looking forward to [Monday] and we'll definitely try to get the win."

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