36th overall pick Adam Clendeningv by the Chicago Blackhawks poses for a photo portrait during day two of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center on June 25, 2011 in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
To help prepare our readers for the NHL Entry Draft, scheduled to take place on June 27 and 28 in Philadelphia, Madhouse Enforcer is bringing you a series of posts not only introducing you to the team’s prospects, but also to which players could be a good fit for the Chicago Blackhawks in the future.
Today we continue our look at the Top 10 prospects in the Hawks’ system with our number two prospect, defenseman Adam Clendening.
The Blackhawks have quite a few talented defensemen in their system, but none of them come with as much potential as Clendening. Taken in the second round of the 2011 draft in Minnesota, the New York native has proved a lot during his two seasons with the Rockford IceHogs since signing an entry-level contract in 2012. In 147 games in the AHL, Clendening has 21 goals and 84 assists, and has proven to be quite proficient at quarterbacking the team’s power play from the blue line.
Here is how Hockey’s Future describes his skillset:
“Clendening is an offensive defenseman blessed with superb puck-moving ability and on-ice vision. His excellent puck skills are one reason why many scouts are high on Clendening. He can see plays develop and follows them quite well…Clendening’s ability to move the puck and patience with it makes him an ideal quarterback on the power play. He makes very good decisions with the puck and distributes the puck very well.”
Outlook for the Blackhawks:
One of the biggest criticisms of the Blackhawks over the past few seasons has been the fact that they can’t seem to get consistent production out of their power play unit. While guys like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews both have tremendous offensive skills, they need a catalyst working the point to help them out, and Clendening could be that guy.
The big question for Clendening is one of defensive prowess. He is solid in that area of his game, but until he proves on the big league level that he can play responsible enough defense to be used in even strength situations, then head coach Joel Quenneville isn’t going to feel comfortable in putting him in the lineup over guys like David Rundblad and Michal Rozsival.
If the team does trade a guy like Johnny Oduya or Brent Seabrook before the season starts, then Clendening would have a great chance to make the roster. Quenneville may still opt for size and grit over power play finesse though, so Clendening could have to battle with Stephen Johns for a spot on the big club. If we were grading them based solely on talent level though, we’d have to give the edge to Clendening, hence his higher placing on this ranking.