Mat Clark (not a typo) has been in the Ducks system since the 2009 draft. Is he ever going to make it to the big show?
Name: Mat Clark, with one "t"
Hometown: Lakewood, Colorado
Draft Story: 37th overall selection in the 2009 NHL entry draft
How did he become a Duck?: The Ducks drafted him 37th overall in the 2009 entry draft. They traded the 21st overall selection, from Philadelphia in the Pronger trade, to Columbus for their 26 and 37 picks.
Where did the Ducks send him for the lockout?: Norfolk. He lives in the AHL right now.
Other Hockey Ventures: Nothing. Mat has had a very linear development
Key Stats from last season: 62 GP, 1+11=12 and a -1. He was also 1+1=2 and a +2 in 4 playoff games.
Scout's take: I recommend reading this interview that Arthur did with Mat Clark shortly after he was drafted. The first couple of paragraphs describe a phenomenal play that I still remember vividly. Other than that, Mat Clark is a meat and potatoes blue liner. Any scouting report will offer similar observations. He has good size, an admirable physical game, and a little bit of offensive upside. Yet, that offensive upside seems to have deteriorated slightly over the years. He hasn't been as dominant as the Ducks would like. He's getting good minutes in the AHL, and being fairly effective. His positioning and decision making might need more work, but defenders can be a little slower to develop than wingers. No need to panic.
Is he a work-in-progress, trade bait, or a keeper?: Right now, it's really hard to say. Personally, I think he's a keeper. He has all the makings of a physical, stay-at-home defenseman who can fill in on the bottom pair, and still has an outside chance to be a top-four defender. However, the Ducks have five-of-six defensive spots filled for the next three seasons; two if you think the lockout will get crazy, and I'm sure most Anaheim fans would rather see Sami Vatanen or Hampus Lindholm take that last spot. The Ducks have a serious clog on the backend. I think that Clark is the best stay-at-home, physical prospect we have for the blueline, which means he shouldn't go anywhere.
How excited are you?: Probably a three. If training camp was happening right now :'( the competition I'd be paying the most attention to would be Clark versus Toni Lydman. If Clark performs well, you would have to think that Murray would be looking for a back door to shove Lydman out of so he could save on the much cheaper Clark. Clark is the type of security blanket that is not properly appreciated and often goes missed. He's exactly the type of player you want to have in your system.