Next up in our annual prospect review and forecast series is Kody Clark, forward for the Hershey Bears. (You can access all of the Capitals prospect reports and player analysis on the “Prospects” page in the top menu or right here.)
Clark, a 6’-3”, 185lb right-winger, was drafted by the Capitals in the second round (47th overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. The Capitals signed Clark to a three-year entry-level contract with an average annual value of $808000 on October 22, 2018. With the first two years of the contract being entry level slides, Clark, 22, will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2022-23 season.
Clark is the son of Wendel Clark, who was drafted first overall in the 1985 NHL Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Wendel amassed 564 points (330g, 234a) in 793 games between the Maple Leafs, the Quebec Nordiques, the Detroit Red Wings, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Chicago Blackhawks.
Kody Clark spent three seasons with the Ottawa 67’s junior hockey team in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). During the 2017-18 season, he recorded 18 goals and had 21 assists. In the 2018-19 season, he scored 17 goals with 29 assists.
In the 2018-19 season, Clark played in 57 regular season games for the Ottawa 67s, missing almost the entire month of December with a shoulder injury. He had 17 goals and 21 assists for 38 points, overall, was +17, and also had 98 penalty minutes.
Prior to the NHL Draft, Clark was ranked 19th overall among North American forwards by NHL Central Scouting.
During the 2018 Prospect Showcase in Estero, Fla., Clark tied for second on the team in goals (2) and tied for fourth in points (3). Clark also appeared in two NHL preseason games with the Capitals.
Clark had his lowest offensive output during the 2019-20 season with the Bears, recording just three goals and six assists in 31 games during the Covid-shortened season. On the flip side, the 2020-21 Covid-shortened season was Clark’s best season for offensive production to date, recording seven goals and two assists in just 19 games played.
Clark posted his highest goal production during the 2021-22 season, although his season was very streaky for the Bears.
2021-2022 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS
The following is a compilation of our month-by-month prospect reports for Kody Clark during the 2021-2022 season. You can find all of our monthly prospect reports on our “Prospects” page in the top menu.
The second-generation winger got off to a good start to the season by netting the game winning goal in the season opening, 5-2 win over Charlotte. Clark tipped Mike Vecchione’s shot past Charlotte goalie Christopher Gibson on the power play.
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) October 17, 2021
Unfortunately for Clark, the opening goal was his only point of October. He was scoreless in his next five games and did not play in the month’s final contest against Cleveland. The son of former NHL winger Wendall Clark has skated mostly on the fourth line and this has limited his opportunities. It has not helped Clark that his linemates have also gotten off to slow starts. He needs to generate more shots, as he only has nine shots on goal.
Clark netted Hershey’s first goal of the month with a first period tally at Springfield on November 5. He deposited the rebound off of a Lucas Johansen shot.
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) November 5, 2021
The native of Chicago, Illinois added an assist against the same Thunderbirds team on November 7. Clark then went on five game scoreless drought. He snapped out of that streak with the secondary assist on Mason Morelli’s overtime winner against Providence on November 24.
Clark closed out the month with a shorthanded marker in the loss to Rochester on November 26. He took a pass from Joe Snively and shot up and over the Rochester goalie to put the Bears on the scoreboard. Clark has been thrust into a penalty killing role with the depleted roster.
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) November 27, 2021
Clark has shown moments of excellent play, but consistency is his issue right now. Because of injuries, Clark has only logged 66 AHL games to date, which would still make him a rookie in many aspects. He needs to play every game this season.
Clark equaled his offensive production from the first two months of the season in December. He entered the month with five points and then compiled five points in 2021’s final month.
Clark’s first point came in a 4-1 win at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on December 14. It proved to be the game-winning goal. Late in the second period, Clark controlled the puck behind the net and flipped the puck out in front of the goal. The puck bounced off of a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton player and in.
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) December 15, 2021
The third-year winger had his best game of the season two games later against the same opponent. Clark set up Kale Kessy for the opening goal of the game and then tallied the second Hershey goal in the first period. A Wilkes-Barre/Scranton player passed the puck back to the center of the ice and right to Clark. He took advantage of the gift and deposited his shot five-hole to put the Bears up 2-0.
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) December 19, 2021
Clark completed his first three-point game of the season in the second. He sped into the offensive zone and feathered a pass to Mason Morelli, who buried his shot.
Clark’s last point of the month came on Ryan Dmowski’s goal in a 2-1 loss at Lehigh Valley on December 21. He entered COVID protocol after the Christmas break and was absent for the final two games of the month.
It was a disappointing month for Clark. The third-year winger played in nine games in January and failed to record a point. He was also a minus five for the month.
Clark had a strong December, but seemed to have lost his way a bit in the new year. He is being outplayed by players who are on AHL contracts and needs to increase his hunger level.
After going without a point in a dismal January, Clark saw an uptick in his offense in February. He ended his nine-game scoreless streak on February 2 when he earned the primary assist on Beck Malenstyn’s second period goal against Hartford.
In his next game in Cleveland, Clark powered towards the net and pulled the puck in front. He then fluttered a shot by Cleveland netminder Jet Greaves left pad to give Hershey a 2-1 lead in the second period.
— Jon Sorensen (@jon_m_sorensen) February 5, 2022
The goal halted his 12-game goalless drought and held as the game-winner. He did not score a point in his next five games, but picked up a pair of secondary assists in Bridgeport on February 19. Clark added another helper against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on February 22. Unfortunately for Clark, he was injured in that game and missed the final two games of the month.
March was a quiet month offensively for Clark. He registered a single point in 11 games played. The lone point was a secondary assist on Lucas Johansen’s second period marker on March 23.
Clark has not tallied a goal since February 4, a drought that spans 19 games, and has only one goal since the calendar flipped to 2022. The winger’s offense has dried up. His struggles have come despite having been given the chance to skate on the top two lines at times. Clark has failed to take advantage of this opportunity and is back in a bottom six role.
April was a microcosm of the entire season for Clark. The month featured signs of life in his game, a scoreless streak and an injury. He started the month with a goal in the opening game of April in Charlotte.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) April 1, 2022
The tally snapped a 19-game goalless drought for the winger. Clark then produced his first multi-point game since February 19 on April 5 at Bridgeport. His shot from between the circles deflected off of teammate Drake Rymsha for the first goal of the game, earning the winger a primary assist.
Clark then put himself in the franchise history book. He took a pass from Lucas Johansen at the top of the right circle and backhanded a shot through Bridgeport goalie Cory Schneider for the overtime game-winner to give the Bears their 3000th franchise win.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) April 5, 2022
Clark seemed to be finding his game at this point. Unfortunately for Kody, the overtime goal was his last point of the month. He went without a point in four games and then sustained an injury that caused him to miss three games.
Clark returned for the last four games of the regular season, but went pointless. The seven-game scoreless streak is the sixth time this campaign where Clark has gone five or more games without a point.
Clark also had four stretches of seven or more games where he failed to tally a goal. The inconsistency is really hard to figure out, as there are games where Clark looks like a world beater and then he disappears for long stretches. He recorded eight goals and 11 assists in 63 games played.
After posting he best offensive numbers the previous season, Clark was up and down for the 2022-23 season. He had very encouraging months in December and February, but both months were followed by very quiet months in January and March.
Clark is still only 22, so there is time to make that next step. He’s flashed the skills in extended hot streaks. The key for him this season will be consistency.
By Jon Sorensen
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