Brandt Clarke Downplays Comparisons to Drew Doughty

Barrhaven Defenceman Selected Eighth Overall by Los Angeles Kings

By Jeff Morris

Brandt Clarke became the 10th player from Barrhaven selected in the NHL Draft last Friday as the Los Angeles Kings selected him eighth overall. Clarke becomes the third player from Barrhaven selected in the first round of the draft, and joins NHL legend Steve Yzerman as the only Barrhaven players to be selected in the top 10.

Clarke and his brother, Graeme, also became the first brothers from Barrhaven to ever both be selected in the NHL Draft. Graeme Clarke was selected by the New Jersey Devils in the third round of the 2019 NHL Draft.

Clarke is regarded as an offensive defenceman. After growing up playing in the Nepean Raiders program, he headed for Toronto to play for the Don Mills Flyers against a higher level of competition. He had an outstanding rookie season for the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League in 2019-20, but the OHL season was cancelled in 2020-21. Looking for a place to play, Clarke spent most of the season playing pro hockey in Slovakia. Graeme Clarke also played in Slovakia for six games before returning to North America to join the AHL’s Binghamton Devils.

Kings General Manager Rob Blake, a player whom Clarke has drawn comparisons to by some scouts, was happy to land the Barrhaven native. He said that the Kings were high on Clarke “from day one” and that Clarke could improve the Kings’ defensive corps.

“The deception, the poise with the puck, the subtle plays he makes to bring a defender to him and either get a forward in stride or else get the puck through to the net,” Blake said of Clarke when speaking with the media after the selection.

Clarke was the fourth defenceman chosen in the first eight picks. Owen Power was picked first by the Buffalo Sabres, Luke Hughes was selected fourth by New Jersey, and Simon Evidsson was chosen sixth overall by GM Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings.

Blake had considered trading up, but was happy that it played out the way it did and that the Kings got the player they wanted. Clarke was the only righthanded shot among that group, and he also has the most offensive ability.

“We were looking at whether we would try to get up a spot or two, but as it unfolded we were content to pick where we were at and very excited about getting to what we needed to do,” Blake told the media.

Clarke was excited about the pick and about going to the Kings. There were immediate comparisons made between him and longtime Kings star Drew Doughty by some analysts, but Clarke downplayed them.

“He’s a Hall of Famer and I have the utmost respect for that guy,” Clarke told the LA Daily News. “I don’t like it when people jump the gun and make huge comparisons to NHL legends.”

Clarke added that he was excited about the chance to learn from Doughty, as he has patterned some of his own game after that of the Kings’ star.

Clarke is expected to spend the 2021-22 season with Barrie in the OHL. While his puck moving ability and his hockey sense have been praised by scouts leading up to the draft, the consensus was that the area of improvement he needs to work on is his skating, particularly his acceleration.

“I want to be the fastest player on the ice, I want to have the hardest shot on the ice, I want all these things, so I’m not going to stop working until all that happens,” Clarke told the LA Daily News. “That’s just the kind of ambitious person that I am.”

Clarke played for Team Canada in the 2021 U18 World Championships in Dallas. He is an early favorite to be selected as a blueliner for Team Canada in the 2022 U20 World Junior Championships that take place over the Christmas break.

(photo by Trey Wilson/OHL Images)