The Halifax Mooseheads appear to be working on a deal to acquire highly-touted defenceman Garrett Clarke.

A source has told Metro Halifax the Mooseheads are close to acquiring Clarke, a 17-year-old who was picked sixth overall by the Lewiston Maineiacs in last year’s draft.

The Mooseheads, desperate for defensive depth, may have to surrender an offensive-minded 19- or 20-year-old forward and a late draft choice to secure Clarke’s services.


Mooseheads general manager Cam Russell, reached yesterday at the Memorial Cup, wouldn’t confirm interest in Clarke, but said defensive depth is at the top of his trade wish list.

“If you look at all the strong, competitive, consistent teams, they build from the net out,” said Russell. “They have good goaltending and at least four top-notch defencemen, and that’s where we’re trying to improve our hockey team.”

The Mooseheads could use the help. Other than 19-year-olds Gabriel O’Connor and Pascal Amyot, there are no bona fide top-four defencemen on the 2009-10 roster. Alex MacDonald, a rookie last season, could ascend to that group.

International Scouting Service described Clarke last year as a “highly skilled offensive defenceman” and a “tough player to play against” with “a mean streak.” He tallied six goals and three assists in 46 games as a rookie with Lewiston and served a 15-game suspension for a cross-checking incident.

There is also talk the Mooseheads could land an over-age defenceman from the Memorial Cup host Rimouski Oceanic to complete last December’s Logan MacMillan trade. Stay-at-homer Alexandre Brunet is a possibility.

The first trade period of 2009-10 opens on Friday, June 5, the day before the QMJHL draft in Moncton.

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