The Los Angeles Kings have some roster decisions to make before the start of the 2022-23 NHL season but one that they should not have to make is whether defensive prospect Brandt Clarke should be on the roster.
The 6-foot-2 and 185-pound Clarke was drafted eighth overall in the 2021 NHL Draft. He immediately became the best prospect in the pipeline and set his goal of making the NHL. Playing for the OHL Barrie Colts last season, where he was captain, posted 11 goals and 48 assists for 59 points and 29 penalty minutes in 55 games.
Not only does he ooze confidence he could be the best player not in the league right now. He has everything to be a force in the league, speed, heavy shot, defensive and offensive awareness, hockey IQ, and the ability to jump in the play at the time of his choosing. He is a younger version of Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar.
What will it take for him to make the opening night roster? There needs to be a trade. Los Angeles has a plethora of defensemen on the roster and in the system so trading away a Matt Roy or Sean Walker could be an opening.
He would also need a mistake-free training camp. Clarke has to come into camp ready to take someone’s spot. play with an edge, and control the game from his point of view. He has the ability to make this team out of training camp so right now the position is his to lose and it is in his hands.
Brandt Clarke should be on the Kings opening night roster. He has done everything and has nothing left to prove. If something should go wrong he could be sent to the Kings AHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign, and play lights-out hockey. Clarke will be in the NHL sooner than later but will he play his way onto the opening night roster this upcoming season?
(photo: nhl.com; Mike Commito) (photo: lakingsinsider.com; Zach Dooley)