Updated: Oct 6, 2021
The LA Kings' first round pick in 2021 is a talented defenseman who could take the league by storm. We'll examine him under the fantasy hockey microscope.
Brandt Clarke was taken 8th overall by the Kings in the 2021 NHL draft. Clarke made his way to the Kings after impressing in the Alberta Elite Hockey League U16 by putting compiling an impressive 35-78-113 line, and posting 6-32-38 in the OHL in 2019-20, and posting nearly a point per game for the last 22 of his 57 games that season. After COVID put a halt to his OHL career, he went overseas to play in the Slovakian mens league. This transition isn't without it's growing pains, but he still showcased the potential that he showed after breaking out in the OHL. As a defenseman, he has a strong understanding of how to jump into the play on the offensive end, and shows great talent for finding the open man on odd-man looks. When moving with the puck, he has the skating ability to move like a forward, and was one of the best offensive talents in the draft, forward or defenseman.
As a dynamic offensive force on the blue line, he could have the highest ceiling of any player in the class, but his defensive game may need work before taking his game to the next level. He's expected to rejoin the Barrie Colts in the OHL this season to continue his development. He undoubtedly has work to do on the finer aspects of his defensive game, and scouts have said he needs to work on his skating mechanically, and the OHL is a great place to work on that.
From a fantasy perspective, Clarke is in a position to succeed whenever he reaches the NHL. The LA Kings have been in a dismal state since the end of their dynasty in the 2010s, and are ripe with talent ready to pick up the torch. After drafting Arthur Kaliyev, Quinton Byfield, and Alex Turcotte in recent drafts, the Kings had plenty of talent at forward. Enter Brandt Clarke - he seems to be the heir apparent to run their power play, and take a first pairing role on a team that could be very exciting to watch for many years. Clarke isn't one to shy away from shooting the puck, as evidenced by his junior play, and running the Barrie powerplay in his first year of major junior was a huge step forward. We'll be looking forward to seeing what the young, talented defender can do in another year of major junior, and his sky high potential as fantasy dynasty owners.