Weight: 172 pounds
Date of birth: April 24, 2001
Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario
Position: Right Wing
OHL Draft: Round 1, 6th overall, 2017 Priority Selections
NHL Central Scouting Rankings: Pre-season, November; B prospect, Mid-term; 56th North America
Ottawa 67s’ right winger Graeme Clarke played his Minor Midget AAA with the Toronto Marlboros during the 2016-2017 scoring 82 goals and 54 assists in 51 games. Scoring has always been his forte; he combined for 67 goals in 35 regular season and playoff games in Bantam AAA with the Ottawa Senators.
Clarke’s offensive prowess also came to the forefront during some well watched showcases. In 2016-2017 at the OHL Cup, Clarke scored 6 goals while adding a helper in 5 games. He also appeared in the OHL Gold Cup where he scored 3 goals and 2 assists in 5 games. He also represented the East Coast Selects Under-15 at the World Selects Invite where he scored 10 goals and 4 assists in 7 games.
The scouting report from OHL Central Scouting was complimentary:
Graeme is a goal scorer. He possesses one of the better shots in this year’s class. It is very accurate, has pace and he seems to be able to get it off from anywhere and at any time on the ice. He is a very good skater when at full stride and should improve as he gets stronger. He is very creative with the puck and has good offensive instincts as the puck always seems to find him on the ice. He is a smart offensive player that doesn’t put himself in bad positions.
Last season, Clarke made his OHL debut with the 67’s appearing in all but 5 games and scored 14 goals to go along with 11 assists. He would represent Canada at the World Hockey Challenge Under-17 and notch 2 goals and 4 assists in 6 games. Later that summer, he would represent Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup where he would score twice and add an assist in 5 games.
Too date this season, Clarke has appeared in 39 games (he’s missed 13 games with a dislocated shoulder) and has scored 17 goals and 7 assists on a very deep 67’s roster that has made some major additions and poised to make a serious run at an OHL Championship and Memorial Cup. Despite missing those 13 contests he is tied for 6th among 67’s in goals and fourth in powerplay goals.
I think Clarke’s skating sometimes gets an unfair shake in the scouting community. It’s the same debate I had about Jason Robertson during his draft year. It is in some cases described as having a laziness to his effort. But my opinion is that he is such an intelligent player that he is able to slip into seams and high scoring areas without expending a lot of energy. And once he gets there, he is able to fire off a lethal shot. To these eyes, those are two big reasons why he is scoring at a 20.9% rate.
I am often asked who has the better shot/release: Clarke or Arthur Kaliyev of the Hamilton Bulldogs. I think you could flip a coin.
Clarke has superb puck handling ability. In tight, he can dangle with the best of them. On the rush, he handles it with ease. What he lacks is a separation gear, but skating is an area he has worked on hard and will continue to work on and improve. He also has an ability to slow the play down with the puck on his stick. While he is a goal scorer first, he has excellent vision and can slow the play down with possession to give his teammates time to find space and deliver a good pass on the forehand and backhand.
Clarke is most dangerous on the powerplay where there is more time and space. 40% of his offensive production comes with the man advantage. But we think there is more to be seen five-on-five where he doesn’t always get the top offensive duties on such a deep Ottawa lineup.
There has also been a bit of an evolution to Clarke’s game. He is more willing to drive to the net. He is more engaged on the forecheck. Despite needing to add some muscle, he is more willing to engage physically. And he has put the necessary work into being a better defensive player and with his play without the puck.