photo by Doug Ball
Today the Ducks signed their 2009 second-round draft selection, defenseman Matt Clark, to a two way deal. Arthur, you and I were both pretty high on Matt Clark at camp and were very impressed with what was, to us, his now famous bail out of Scott Niedermayer on a 2 on 1. What are the odds that Anaheim fans will see Matt Clark rocking one of those fancy new third jerseys next year?
Well, it's not certain that he turns pro yet, but assuming he's ready for the next level and finds himself in the AHL next year, then I think there's a good chance he'll find himself in the NHL, at least for a call up. He's just too confident and too smart for the Ducks to not want to get a good look at him right now.
That being said, there's still camp, there's still an offseason full of moves to be made for this team. Right now, it's easy to give the kids a shot, because there are injuries and holes in the depth chart and because the alternative would be to have them floating like a bit of flotsam on some random team in the AHL. If the Ducks set up shop in Syracuse and acquire a shutdown defenseman by trade or free agency, then it suddenly makes sense to let Clark incubate. And that's setting aside that fact that Mikkelson and Festerling have put in time, even if the former doesn't have the consistency and the latter doesn't have the toolkit that Clark does.
It's an attractive move, don't get me wrong. Clark is NHL size right now. He's NHL smarts right now. He's confident and competitive. And if he comes to camp and shows them he's learned how to handle the puck and get it on net consistently, Murray and Carlyle would be fools to keep him in the AHL all year. He would be one of the shiniest new cars in the Ducks' garage; they have to test drive him.
I think his odds of having a stint with the big club are very good. He has an almost Brookbank-esque safety to his game. Everything I saw from him in camp screamed, 'stay at home success.' I'm not sure his head is even attached to his neck, because it is constantly surveying the ice. Moreover, I can't decide if the Ducks defense is depleted or just evolving. Eminger might be gone this summer, along with Wisniewski. Niedermayer is as unpredictable as ever. If the captain goes, along with the deadweight already mentioned, then the Ducks have only Visnovsky, Festerling, Sbisa and Mikkelson as their defensemen in the organization with NHL experience and under contract next year, and it's not like any of those last three have a ton of games under their belt. Yes, a free agent will be signed, maybe two. But that will still leave some major holes in the Anaheim D.
I could fall on the standby and say that if there is an injury, Matt Clark will be the first to get a phone call, but honestly, I think the kid is going to earn a chance straight out of camp. I think he'd be the perfect complement to Sbisa, allowing Luca to really explore his offensive game. I don't know what else to say that you probably didn't cover; all I know is this kid is a giant who likes to keep the puck out of the net. He'll find a home in this Ducks lineup sooner than people realize.