2014 NHL Draft Profile: Blake Clarke

Saginaw Spirit forward Blake Clarke saw his stock decline in his draft year.

The Player

Blake Clarke

Forward

Saginaw Spirit (OHL)

2013-2014 stats: 54 games 2 goals 10 assists 12 points 26 PIMs

Height: 6'1" Weight: 193 lbs.

Final NHL Central Scouting Rank: 134th among NA skaters

What are his strengths? Weaknesses?

Clarke is one of those big forwards who always seems to find the puck on his stick. He has a quick release and scored at most every level until this past season. He is strong on the puck and has strength, but isn't a physical player. He won't be the type of player to go into corners aiming to throw his body around.

His hockey savvy and decision-making is the biggest area of concern in this observer's viewings of Clarke. He tends to be careless with the puck and makes poor decisions. Hopefully that will be a part of his game that evolves as he continues to progress and develop as a hockey player.

How was his draft year? Trending up or down?

Clarke's draft year was a struggle for the former Shattuck St. Mary's bantam star, only putting up two goals all season long. His mid-term grade of 93 fell to 134 when Central Scouting released its final rankings. Central Scouting is just a barometer of where he might be in a team's draft rankings, but it is not a good sign for Clarke that his stock fell so drastically.

Draft projection?

Clarke has shown he has the ability to score goals at the major junior level so there could be a team that takes him higher than expected based on that, but this past season was a major disappointment. He'll likely be slotted in somewhere during the sixth or seventh rounds. However, it wouldn't shock me if he was taken in the fifth based on past performance.

Pro upside?

Clarke has the physical strength and size that makes him an intriguing prospect to many NHL scouts, but his physicality hasn't really shown through yet. Before this season where his numbers slid, he didn't need to be a physical force, but if his offense continues to go missing, he'll need to transition to more of a grinder.

Where will he go next?

Clarke will almost certainly play in the Ontario Hockey League once again next winter, but it isn't a sure bet it will be in Saginaw. He struggled to find the offensive production that he once showed in Brampton. He is two years away from signing a pro contract as he is more of a project that will need time to develop in the OHL.

--

Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSports.

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