4. Brandt Clarke, D, Barrie Colts
All of the players in this list going forward are likely to go in the top ten of the draft, so the chances of the ‘Hawks grabbing them may start to go down. Despite this, they are still worth taking a look at, including Barrie Colts defenseman Brandt Clarke.
As Morreale mentions, Clarke, like Corson Ceulemans, is a right-handed shooting defenseman. Right-handed D-men are increasingly rare in the NHL, so he will likely be a hot commodity going into the draft.
Clarke has been playing in Slovakia during the COVID-19 pause in play, where he excelled on European ice. Prior to this, he was also a standout for the Barrie Colts, putting up 38 points in the 2020 season. Clarke has decent size to him, which is always a positive for anyone on the back end, and has also shown a good willingness to block shots.
There is no telling whether or not Clarke will be available when Stan Bowman’s time comes around. However, he could be a valuable asset to a Blackhawks defensive core that already includes a great cast of young prospects.
3. Kent Johnson, C/LW, University of Michigan
Kent Johnson has been described by some scouts as being the most talented player available in the 2021 NHL Draft. While that accolade is highly subjective, there’s no doubt that Johnson has primed himself to be a star in the NHL one day.
As Morreale’s report mentions, “Johnson thrived at left wing this season. The 18-year-old led first time NHL-Draft eligible NCAA players with 18 assists and 27 points in 26 games.” The young gun absolutely lit up the scoresheet for the University of Michigan this year. If he decides to return to the NCAA for another year after the draft, he could led a frightening first line for the Wolverines.
A quick player with great hands and a phenomenal hockey IQ, Johnson is the type of player that is able to jump on the ice every night and make his presence known. He has the kind of offensive prowess that few players in college hockey have, and he should be able to easily make the transition to the NHL.
It is likely that Johnson will go in the top five of the draft, but if he does end up slipping by some chance, the Blackhawks absolutely need to snag him. Imagining Johnson alongside someone like Alex DeBrincat is certainly a nice thought.