Team Canada made more than one wrong decision when it came to invitations to tryout for the team, including not inviting hyped-up prospect Matthew Savoie, high-scoring QMJHL defenseman Miguel Tourigny, and Brandt Clarke.
Let’s start with who Team Canada actually invited to their camp:
Obviously, some big-name players stand out and bulk up the group, and that’s something you will forever see with Team Canada. Notable players include Connor Bedard, Sebastian Cossa, Kaiden Guhle, Owen Power, Kent Johnson, Dylan Guenther, and Shane Wright.
These players that I have mentioned are all first-round picks from the 2021 NHL entry draft except for Kaiden Guhle, who was drafted in the first round of 2020, and Shane Wright, who is projected to go first overall in the 2022 NHL Draft.
In total, Team Canada has invited 13 first-round draft picks. It seems like they’ve stocked up well, but in reality, they missed on some.
Further, Team Canada invited 11 defensemen, and only two of them are right-handed shooters. Clarke is a right-shot defenseman who’s not only a gift in the offensive zone but also plays a fantastic defensive game.
Seriously, Canada, you’re going to leave a guy who has a 99% chance at becoming an NHLer and a 56% chance at being a superstar off the team?
And for what reason? Well, there wasn’t one.
He was simply not invited.
I…. just don't know what else to say about all of this. Nothing lines up.— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) December 1, 2021
Leaving behind a clear top 3 Canadian blueliner and the only impactful one on the right side is one thing (not a good thing). But to not even invite him to camp is simply a bridge too far. https://t.co/QAIJeHm2xI
We’ll start with some analytics and ease into the gameplay and skill set in a bit. First, let’s go over his prospect card shown above. As an eighth overall pick, it’s very hopeful that Clarke pans out and becomes the future key defenseman for the LA Kings.
It’s reassuring to know that the analytical database thinks that he will not only be a guaranteed NHLer in a matter of a few years, but the chances of him being a star in the NHL are quite high too.
Even though Clarke’s style of play isn’t like Pronger’s or Hughes’, having their potential is really nice to learn.
On draft day, Clarke had a 98% chance of being an NHLer one day, which ranked first in the entire draft class. As for being a star, it has only skyrocketed since. He was ranked at a 39% chance at being a star, fifth-best in the draft.
Slowly going into his playstyle, let’s go over Brandt’s basic statistics.
Clarke has played 17 OHL games this season and has recorded 23 points throughout. As the captain of the Barrie Colts, he’s managed to record 1.35 points per game this year while maintaining a strong defensive game as he is a +7 on the season.
A little lower in the chart, you’ll see Clarke’s progression as a player over the years, and as you can see, he’s always been that prospect that will develop into a top pair defenseman. As the season has gone on, he’s only gotten better and better to the point where he’s now a borderline superstar player.
And as for Clarke’s statistics on a grand scale across all OHL defensemen, Brandt seems to be the best.
Leading the entire OHL in defensemen points with 23, Clarke also happens to be 25th among all players in points.
It just shocks me how those raw numbers alone don’t earn him a permanent spot on the team. His statistics don’t even exemplify how good he is as a player too.
Brandt Clarke buried a pretty one last night to go along with 2 helpers.— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) October 29, 2021
He's up to 9 points in 6 OHL games on the season. His 1.5 points-per-game are among the top-15 OHL skaters.
He's an 18-year-old defenseman. pic.twitter.com/ZKBE02x3r0
Here is a goal that Clarke scored back in October. He manages to catch a pass on his off-side and then opens up to angle himself towards the net so he can get the shot off.
Clarke does end up finding a way to not only get the puck on net in a short matter of time, but he also manages to snipe it top corner.
Rising @LAKings prospect for the OT win!— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) October 30, 2021
Brandt Clarke (@brandtclarke55) picks his spot to cap-off three unanswered for the @OHLBarrieColts who are comeback kids in Mississauga 🎥 pic.twitter.com/oPW2iEx8WZ
Here’s Clarke’s overtime winner from the same night. The only thing better than his quick decision-making before the goal was his celebration. Nowadays, you’ll see a lot of NHL players hold back and try to make a play rather than getting the puck to the net, but Clarke saw his opportunity to end the game, and he capitalized on it.
That just proves how talented Brandt is in the offensive zone. He’s such a smart and quick hockey player, good luck finding another defenseman like that.
I don’t know what team Canada was thinking when they made this decision, but they did it wrong. Brandt Clarke was robbed of a roster spot on Canada’s U20 team, and it’s impossible not to argue against the decision.