Chicago Blackhawks prospect Adam Clendening has been an offensive star from the blue line everywhere he has played. From midget hockey alongside Tyler Seguin with the Toronto Marlboros to the NCAA ranks at Boston University to the AHL’s Rockford Icehogs Clendening has been a steady point producer. Given their salary cap tightness and the inability of any defenseman on the roster not named Duncan Keith or Brent Seabrook to produce offensively, the time has come for the Blackhawks to give Clendening a longer look.
The Blackhawks drafted Clendening with the 36th overall pick in 2011 after an amazing freshman year with at Boston University. After an even better sophomore year with the Terriers, Clendening turned pro with the Blackhawks in 2012 and has been in the AHL ever since. After posting seasons of 46 and 59 points, respectively, Clendening has proven all he has to at the minor league level, and it would behoove the Blackhawks to give him an opportunity to crack the lineup out of training camp next year.
The top thing holding Clendening back is the depth in the Blackhawks organization — a big reason they have been one of the best teams in the NHL in recent years. If he was a member of any other organization, Clendeing would surely be an established NHLer by now, but cracking the Blackhawks’ lineup is a monumental task. If the Hawks can’t find consistent NHL ice time for Clendening, the best thing would be to do what they did with former prospect Jimmy Hayes, Dylan Olsen and Brandon Pirri, who were lost in the shuffle of the team’s depth. All three were traded from the Hawks to the Florida Panthers (in two separate transactions) where they have become regular NHL players.
While the Hawks envisioned Clendening quarterbacking their power play for the next decade, it is decision time for the organization. Clendening has proven all he has to prove at the minor league level and deserves a chance in the NHL. Whether or not that is in Chicago falls squarely on the shoulders of the Blackhawks’ management.