LOS ANGELES — If you thought defenseman prospect Brandt Clarke was excited when he was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the first round (eighth overall) of the 2021 National Hockey League Draft, just about one month ago, you might think that he still hasn’t come down off of Cloud Nine. Indeed, when he spoke with the local media during the second day of the Kings 2021 Development Camp, it seemed that his excitement hasn’t abated one bit.
“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time,” he said. “Ever since the night I got drafted, I’ve been thinking about coming out here. It’s everything I could’ve dreamed of—amazing facility, great organization.”
“Everyone’s been so nice to me, so welcoming,” he added. “I’ve had a great experience here, so far. I’m looking forward to being here for a really long time. I’m really fortunate to being an L.A. King.”
Since his draft day in June, life has been a bit of a whirlwind for the 18-year-old.
“It’s been really eventful,” Brandt noted. “Getting signed was a dream come true. That was really special for me and my family. Then I headed out to Calgary for the Team Canada World Junior camp. That was lots of fun, too. I think I did pretty good for myself there. It’s always cool to be surrounded with the top players in your country, and to be recognized as one of the top players in your country.”
“The anticipation of coming out here had definitely been building up,” added Brandt. “I’m really fortunate to be out here. I’m going back at the end of the week, but I’ll be back here in two weeks for rookie tournament and main [training] camp.”
So far, Brandt has been able to avoid the distractions after being drafted by the Kings.
“A lot of people have been reaching out to congratulate me, but I’ve also had to stay focused,” he noted. “I want to be in the best shape of my life. I want to show that I can stay here, that I can be an impact player as soon as they want me to.”
Now that Brandt is in the Los Angeles area for development camp, it’s down to business, to impress.
“I just want to play my game,” he stressed. “I just want to be a good teammate, listen to the coaches, just be an all-around good person, and [make a good impression]. But when it comes to game time, and the scrimmages, I want to [perform, impress, and do my thing]. That’s what I’m looking forward to, and it’s been really good, so far. It’s awesome.”
“I feel like I’m reading plays pretty well,” he added. “I feel like I’m shutting guys down, one-on-one, two-on-one. I feel like my shots are coming off good, I feel like I’m hitting a lot passes, and I feel quick out there. I’ve been pretty satisfied with how I’ve been, so far. I don’t want to take my foot off the pedal.”
Looking ahead, like so many young prospects, Brandt needs to add muscle, strength to his game.
“I feel like I want to get stronger,” he noted. “I feel like I have good size, but if you want to play in the best league in the world, you can’t be a small kid out there. You have to a big presence, especially on the blue line, so I just want to fill out.”\
“I want to be a presence in front of the net—pushing guys away, clearing screens from the front of the net, knocking guys down in the corners,” he added. “That’s kind of what I want to do. Being stronger will help me in many elements of the game, so that’s what I’ve been putting a lot of emphasis on this summer.”
Just two days into camp, and with only one month having gone by since he was drafted, the Kings have not discussed anything with him about their plans or expectations yet.
“Those are conversations to be had in the future,” said Brandt. “I don’t really know what the expectations are. That probably comes after showing how I am this week—how I handle myself, how I can play with the older guys. That’s probably what they’re examining right now. That’s what the people in charge are kind of taking notes on.”
“No expectations have been laid out for me, so far,” he added. “There’s no set plan. But that’s probably coming pretty soon.”
Media Interview with Brandt Clarke
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