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06-23-2012, 04:14 PM
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Some stuff on Michael Clarke, Joseph Blandisi, and Mitchell Heard.

I had Clarke rated 31st among OHL players. Blandisi at 48th. I had Heard as the 7th best overager from the O.

Here's what I wrote about them.

Michael Clarke got off to an absolutely blazing start with the Spits, scoring 8 goals in the first 11 games of the season. At one point early on, I think TSN draft guru Craig Button actually had him in his first round for the draft. But then the wheels fell off. As Clarke's play slipped, so did his ice time and play on special teams. But he caught fire again towards the end of the season and finished strong to help save his draft ranking. For Clarke moving forward, it's going to be about finding consistency, whether it's improving focus, conditioning, or whatever was preventing him from contributing through the middle part of the season. When he's on, Clarke is a very effective all around player. He's not big, but he's stocky and isn't afraid to go hard to the net without the puck. He's in your face. He's battling along the boards. And he's backchecking hard and playing the PK effectively. His offensive game is fueled by his play away from the puck. When he's not out there working and skating hard, he's not effective and not really noticeable. Interestingly enough, Clarke reminds me a lot of Former Spitfire Adam Henrique who had similar consistency issues in his draft season. He obviously figured it out and I think Clarke can too

The Attack had a very successful season thanks in part to contributions from up and comers like Blandisi. He's one of those meat and potatoes kind of guys who does all the little things on the ice to help his team win. He can play any forward position, but looks most comfortable down the middle. He plays hard at both ends of the ice. He battles on the forecheck and in the corners. He's not tall, but he seems to have a lot of strength and is pretty stocky. I actually think he's got more offensive upside in him, once he gains more confidence and gets more ice time. He shows flashes of puck skill coming down the middle and has an extra gear. I also like his hockey sense and ability to get to the net for garbage goals. Definitely a guy who's flying under the radar right now.

I was actually surprised that Heard didn't earn a contract from Toronto this offseason following a pretty impressive showing at their rookie camp and tourney. Heard is cut from the same cloth as other guys who've gotten themselves drafted as "re-entries" in recent years, like Andrew Shaw, Andy Andreoff, and Rob Flick. He's really a jack of all trades kind of guy. One thing that should garner a lot of attention from scouts is his faceoff ability, which is among the best among centerman in the league. On top of that, he plays in all situations for the Whalers and is an aggressive in your face forward. His offensive skills are pretty average overall, but I do think his playmaking ability is quite underrated. Bottom line is that he profiles pretty well as a potential checking line player in the NHL with his ability to win face-offs, work hard defensively, and protect the puck in the offensive zone. He'd probably get a few more points if he was bigger, but the fact that he's so fearless (in an Andrew Shaw kind of way) has to help his cause. I certainly wouldn't be surprised if the Leafs tabbed him in the later rounds.

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