The speculation is finally over. After different thoughts on how they will use their No. 8 pick, the LA Kings responded by drafted defenseman Brandt Clarke.
There were some who thought the LA Kings would select a goaltender, or maybe a forward, or even trade their pick. But, with the No. 8 pick in the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft, the Kings decided to select Brandt Clarke, a defenseman from the OHL’s Barrie Colts.
Shortly following his selection, Clarke spoke with the LA Kings media via Zoom from his home in Ottawa about how he felt being drafted by the silver-and-black.
“It was crazy,” Clarke beamed. “It was a pretty cool experience. I have a really good support system. There are a lot of people off-camera you guys couldn’t see, but just a lot of people supporting me.
“It was amazing. That feeling when it finally happened, like you saw, it was the raw emotion. I was really excited and what can I say? It was the best day of my life.”
The 18-year-old continued, discussing how talks with the Kings went during the pre-draft process.
“I talked to [the Kings] a good amount of times, they really liked me,” Clarke said. “We did some video, too. I broke down some plays for them. They wanted to see what I saw in situations, and it was cool. I’m really happy that I got to talk with them that much, and it was– yeah, I was really happy. They were great to me the entire interview process, and I’m ecstatic to be an LA King.”
If there are any major advantages in Clarke’s game, it’s that he already has some professional playing experience under his belt.
In 2020-21, Clarke was like many players in that he had to adapt to the unusual year thanks to COVID. As a result, the former Nepean Raider took his game to Slovakia, playing in 26 games for Nove Zamky Mikron HC, scoring six goals and seven assists during that stretch.
If Clarke had one weakness entering this season, however, it may have been his maturity, or lack thereof. Fortunately, his time across the Atlantic helped to remedy that. Clarke discussed what he learned overall from his experience in Europe.
“You know, I had to do a lot of off-ice growing up,” the blueliner admitted. “I was away from my family. My brother was with me for a bit, but he had to take off. So, I had to do my own grocery shopping, do my own cooking, you know, be responsible; go to bed at the right time, wake up at the right time, stuff like that. I just matured as a person, and I think was really [beneficial] for me. The team was great. I have nothing but great things to say about Nove Zamky, and I’m honored to represent them, and I am grateful that I got the opportunity to play professional hockey this season where a lot of the people didn’t play hockey at all.”
Up next for Clarke is making a trip to the City of Angels — a place he’s admitted that he’s never been.
“I haven’t been to L.A.,” the blueliner noted. “A lot of my friends have been. They say it’s a place [I’ve] got to go, but I’ve never been, but I can’t wait.”
Whether or not he will be competing for a roster spot with the Kings right away, Brandt Clarke is showing promise that he can be a solid asset in his new team’s future. There is more to learn, and more to see from the defenseman — including his thoughts on being compared to Drew Doughty — so be sure to stay tuned for more.
As for the Kings, they are right back to work on Saturday as the 2021 Draft continues then.