New Jersey Devils: Graeme Clarke Has A Bright Future… If He Stays Healthy

Graeme Clarke of the New Jersey Devils during the 2019 NHL Draft. (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)
Graeme Clarke of the New Jersey Devils during the 2019 NHL Draft. (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images) /

The New Jersey Devils signed prospect Graeme Clarke to an entry-level deal on Friday. It was a small piece of good news among a string of really bad news for the franchise. Clarke has been playing with the Binghamton Devils after coming over from a short stint in Europe. Clarke has been bouncing around since his junior team, the Ottawa 67s, have not started their season yet.

Clarke has struggled to start the season. In ten games, the sniper has zero goals and one assist between the two leagues. That’s a really bad start, obviously, but the movement and sudden stop in his season last year after finally coming back from injury give him a little leeway.

Obviously, the Devils don’t think this is a sign he has an issue with his development since they signed him to a three-year deal.

Clarke was selected in the 3rd round of the 2019 NHL Draft. He’s someone who has a lot of skill when it comes to goal scoring, lighting the lamp nine times in 16 games last season.

Things started really fast for Clarke, but another major shoulder injury sidelined him for months. He spoke with friend of the Let’s Go Devils Podcast Scott Wheeler after the injury, and his quote is pretty alarming.

"“I felt my shoulder fall off. It was kind of a freak accident. I was just starting to play some good hockey, I scored a goal, I put my arms up, and as I came down my shoulder came out of the socket. It was just really unfortunate. I knew right away that something was wrong.” Clarke to The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler in November 2019"

So, he had a major injury from putting his arms up in celebration. That’s not a great sign, but maybe it’s just a freak thing like he said.

He’s only had four games in the AHL this season, and he’s still just 19 years old. He needs to be treated with kid gloves as the Devils look to develop him as a winger of the future. He’s still a few years away from the NHL, but it’s really nice having him among the ranks of the prospects. He has a wicked shot.

Clarke was once considered one of the best goal scorers in his age group. He scored 82 goals in 81 games for the Toronto Marlboros midget team according to Elite Prospects. That is what led to the 67s taking him sixth overall in the 2017 OHL Draft. He’s someone who could develop into an NHL star because he’s been a star at other levels leading up to the NHL Draft.

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Clarke looked really good in the practices leading up to Team Canada’s World Juniors run to the silver medal, however, he was one of the last cuts right before the final roster was announced. It seemed like he had an uphill climb to make the roster, but many said he looked like he proved he belonged despite coming in as a long shot.

To show his talent against the insane prospects that Canada has shows Clarke has a talent that just needs to be unlocked. The Devils might have a special player, and now he’s signed for the next three years. His immediate future is in doubt since the 67s can just decide to start their season at any time, but he’ll definitely be developing in Binghamton next season. That should give the team another scoring threat for the next two seasons.