Canucks Acquire Clendening From Blackhawks

According to the Vancouver Canucks Twitter account, the Vancouver Canucks have acquired D Adam Clendening from the Blackhawks in exchange for prospect D Gustav Forsling.

Read past the jump for initial thoughts and analysis.

The Canucks swung a surprising deal late Thursday night, acquiring one of the best defensive prospects in Chicago’s system (and the oldest looking 22-year old on the planet) in exchange for Gustav Forsling, an 18-year old D who has shown rapid improvement playing in the SHL this season and had a fantastic World Junior tournament just earlier this month.

The 22-year old 6’0, 190 lb Clendening is in his 3rd year of professional hockey after being drafted 36th overall in 2011 by Chicago. As an AHL rookie, he scored a very strong 46 points in 73 games for Rockford, leading all AHL D in assists with 37, and finishing T-3rd for points. Last year, Clendening finished second in AHL defenseman scoring behind T.J. Brennan, tallying a Rockford Ice Hogs record 12 goals and 47 assists in 74 games.

Clendening’s offensive ability has been described as “special” by his AHL coach, but his defensive ability has been called into question. From ESPN scout Corey Pronman last season:

“The offensive ability with him is truly high-end,” Pronman said. “You don’t lead your AHL team in scoring — one that isn’t bad that is — if that’s not the case. He’s got great puck skills and tremendous offensive instincts. With Clendening, it’s always been about his own-end play and decision-making. The latter I think has improved somewhat, but Chicago will need confidence he will be able to check average NHL forwards before he makes that next jump.”

Pronman had Clendening ranked as the NHL’s 85th best prospect over the summer, which was good for 3rd among Blackhawks and 5th among Canucks, behind Bo Horvat, Hunter Shinkaruk, Jared McCann, and Jake Virtanen. In short, he’s a legitimate high-end prospect with as good a shot as anyone at being a top-4 defender 5, 6, or 7 years down the road. He immediately becomes Vancouver’s best blueline prospect, and likely slots in to their top-6 tomorrow.

Here is Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman and other Chicago brass on Adam Clendening from mid-2013:

Clendening is a very similar player to Forsling in many ways, as both are about the same size and are talented offensive players with questions about their play in their own zone. Chicago likely did not want to deal Clendening, but a cap crunch next season, waiver eligibility concerns, Clendening’s expiring ELC deal, and Forsling’s soaring value thanks to a great World Juniors likely made him available.

Even though Forsling is a very good prospect, I can’t help but think this is a big win for Vancouver. Clendening is closer to NHL ready now, has been more highly regarded than Forsling has, and has a track record of success in a North American pro league. There is likely less risk with Clendening, and likely more upside too.

Clendening has struggled offensively a bit for the Ice Hogs this season, and has one goal and one assist to go along with a 48% Corsi in four NHL games with Chicago. I wouldn’t be too concerned about his AHL slump this season, and he’ll have plenty of time to learn the NHL game in Vancouver. The Clendening era will likely begin in earnest on Sunday, when Vancouver plays host to the Minnesota Wild. Here’s to hoping for a long and prosperous Canucks career for Adam Clendening!

  • Fred-65

    Not mentioned in the article: This should quash any notions of a trade for Bartowski. And frankly I’m much happier with Clendening and Kassian then I am with Forsling and Bartowski. Forsling’s rise to prominence during the WJC was largely driven by Sweden’s excellent and loaded power-play. It’s pretty hard not to look at Clendening’s AHL numbers and smile.

    This now creates quite the logjam of bottom pairing defenseman, regardless of Bieksa’s status with the team. I would like to see Weber stay and I could very easily see the Canucks trying to package Stanton in a trade (+Higgins?) as his contract is marginally more agreeable than Sbisa’s.

    • andyg

      I like your analysis. I honestly think this guy will be here for awhile. Clearly Bieksa is not the guy he was and so we need to move to replace him. I can see a right side of Tanev, Clendenning, Corrado, within two years. I agree keep Weber, if he were 2 inches taller and 15 pounds heavier he would be a regular. I also agree trade Stanton and Higgins for a scorer. Both are not going to be significant contributors for the next few years.

      • Ruprecht

        Your analysis was just fine as well until you got to the “trade Higgins and Stanton for a scorer” part. Name me the GM in this league who will trade anyone you can legitimately describe as a “scorer” for those two? Stanton’s value is somewhere between very late round draft pick and nil and a 2nd round pick would be an absolute home run return for Higgins

  • Larionov18

    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 so high on Clendening. He can see plays develop and follows them quite well. He can also be found frequently jumping into plays too. 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. Clendening can also control the tempo of the game from the blue line. He is an excellent skater with good speed that can keep up with many of the faster opposing forwards. He also transitions quite well too. One area where Clendening will need to improve is keeping his feet moving more consistently. While he is known for his offensive prowess, Clendening is also solid defensively. He doesn’t shy away from the physical side of the game and plays with a good deal of intensity. However, Clendening could stand to utilize his intensity and grit more to the benefit of his team. He possesses a very good shot and can get pucks to the net by taking quality chances.

  • Peachy

    I like it, I like it a lot.

    Forsling’s stock is (probably) at an all time high due to his PP and percentage-driven success in the WJC. Perfect time to move him.

    Forsling may pan out as a good defenseman, but I’ll take Clendenning’s longer track record.

  • Larionov18

    On the one hand, this looks like a great trade at first glance.

    The Canucks acquired the more developed prospect with better pedigree and harder-to-find handedness.

    A lot of things would have to go right for Forsling to be as good of a professional prospect in 4 years as Clendening is now.

    On the other hand, I’d feel a lot better if Benning was trading with Toronto’s front office instead of Chicago’s…

    • Larionov18

      Why would an Oiler fan feel better about the Canucks trading with the Leaf? I don’t know but probably because the LeaFS SUCK AT DRAFTING AND THE blackhawks do not. Any Canuck fan up-thumbing this guy is a dufus.

    • Ruprecht

      I don’t mind having Chicago develop our D prospects for a few years, then passing them along. Toronto and it’s development, no thanks. But there’s a vet there I’m waiting/hoping for.

      On another note, I believe Larionov is late to the party exposing you as an Oiler fan.

      I hope he sticks around because, besides me, he’s the only one I’ve read here calling you on it and it’s something you’ve never denied.

      Larionov, we all have bad days and get grumpy. If this is indeed your last post here I’m sorry to hear it. In the past you’ve had plenty of intelligent things to say and I thank you for taking the time to do so here to further the conversation. The truth is, you wouldn’t be a proper member if you didn’t lose it from time to time. It’s life and the reality is not everybody agrees all the time. Some people revel in that fact.

      • andyg

        Why would one deny something so arbitrary?

        I’ve never heard you deny you’re a Flames fan.

        Of course, I’m not dumb enough to assume that makes you a Flames fan…

        • Larionov18

          Of all the things you get tagged with here, Oilers fan isn’t one that I’ve heard before either and it seems like an odd one to make but then Larionov was deep in the midst of his diarrheal outburst so I think he seemed to be calling everyone an Oilers fan.

          Trade seems like a good gamble to me — skill for skill, with Clendening with a better track record than Forsling. I’m still not sold on the latter as his WJC performance seemed luck and situation driven but it’s a great return on a 5th rounder.

      • RandomScrub

        On Larionov18 – Is “exposing” another forum member as being a fan of another team really any kind of valuable contribution when it’s entirely unrelated to the topic at hand? Is spamming this post with blather about another Nation forum’s number of posts really adding to anything? If that’s the case I’d rather he was “contributing” elsewhere so the rest of us can read thoughts on this trade, as I don’t see anything he wrote as “furthering the conversation”.

        On the trade – there’s always the potential Forsling could develop into something significant, but with that young a prospect you have to play the odds, I’d think. It could happen, but it’s not especially likely and Clendening certainly seems like a more known commodity with his AHL all-star status. If he can step into the roster now and be better than the alternative it’s two birds with one stone, a relatively low-risk solution to the Bieksa injury problem in addition to the potential long-term merits. The sell-high talk about Forsling sounds logical to me, but to that point I understand NM00’s notion that if we’re all thinking that then how would the Chicago Blackhawks brass not have realized it? But, keep making moves like this and the Stanton pick-up last year (in spite of his down season, and I’m aware that was the old regime, but still) and you have to figure one will work out long-term. We know Chicago does a good job developing their players, as you say, and if the Canucks can keep picking some of them off for low enough prices (literally nothing, and 2014’s 5th-rounder) then that sounds like a long-term recipe for success. Of course, developing our own prospects better than they do would be even BETTER, but…

        I think Benning’s habit of collecting these early-20’s players, as pointed out by Spiel, is wise if the cost has been as low as Benning has generally managed to keep it.

  • Larionov18

    And just like that Jim Benning goes from zero to hero again in the eyes of the Canucks Army. Perhaps we should stick to critiquing Mr. Benning on what he has actually done instead of basing criticism on unfounded rumour and completely unrealistic arm chair alternate universes.

    • Larionov18

      Yeah you don’t rep Canuck Army. I don’t mind any of Benning’s moves and could care less what others thought. So, stop making like you rep everyone coming here. I’m not sure who ‘we’ are when you’re being critical of Canuck moves nor do I care.

      Yes, I know some people are bashing Benning and some are not. I’m ok with what he’s doing so far. I may change my mind after this trade deadline passes and that’s how it goes in pro sports!

  • Larionov18

    every move the Canucks make you post ya but…blah blah. Go back to Oilernation. Your team has sucked for two decades. 3 playoffs performances in 15 years. Ya but the 80’s where we came in owning Wayne were great . Ya you and Belicheat can enjoy your wins. In a league where players have choice where they play the oilers will continue to be a joke.

  • Spiel

    I like the trade.
    My only worry is that the Blackhawks essentially chose other prospects over Clendening.

    The thing is, Clendening doesn’t need to be a top 4 d-man for this trade to work. If he is able to become a top 6 or at least compete for a top 6, then this is a good trade.

    Bennning identified that the Canucks were void of 22-26 year old players in their system that could fill out the roster. In the past season, he has traded for Vey (22 years old), Pedan (21 years old), and Clendening (22 years old). All of these guys were in organizations where they were “blocked” by other prospects or veterans. By acquiring these players, Benning is giving the organization some more guys who have the possibility of being roster players in the next couple years. Going in to the season, The Canucks had so little in their system that was ready to help in the next year or two that they would be forced in to free agents to try and fill the roster. If a couple of these players pan out, then the Canucks have low cap hit, younger players to fill our their roster, and can use cap space on some veterans for the top lines.

  • Spiel

    One can only hope that the current NCAA defencemen in the Canucks prospect pool (i.e. McNally and Hutton) follow a development path like Clendening. If they can be relatively successful at the AHL level in their first two years, Benning will have either defensive depth or reasonable trade chips.

  • RandomScrub

    The thing with Forsling is, yes, he put up all those points and PPG’s at the WJ’s, but personally, I didn’t come away all that impressed. There’s no question he was lucky to get that many points. He looked a bit uncoordinated and awkward on the ice. But the fact that he’s doing so well in the SHL this year is a great sign for him. I think he has grown about two or three inches since the draft, and I think that’s why he looks pretty awkward on the ice. If you look at highlight videos of him predraft he looks like a much better skater than he does now. He should develop into his body and become a very good skater. I like the deal, I’ve wanted a guy who can QB the PP and contribute significant offense from the back end for awhile now. But I think Forsling has a hell of a lot of potential.

  • Larionov18

    Gees everyone in here is pretty defensive and snarky today. And really about nothing, as everyone really seems to be on the same page about this trade… baffling.

    The more I read about it, the more I like this trade. I think it was the right move (and hopefully squashes that whole Kassian-Bartkowski thing).

    Will I still like it in 5-6 years? Who knows. I’m sure if Forsling turns out to be some superstar we won’t like it, but I think that’s a slim to none possibility. If I like the trade now, and I either still like the trade 5 years from now or barely remember that it happened, then I’d call that a success.

  • acg5151

    Good trade, we get a RH young dman with a lot of upside, and lose someone not quite as far along and without the North American experience. Right now I think we win this trade, but check back in 5 years because Forsling is a solid prospect.

  • Ruprecht

    @anyone who decided to join the piling on.

    OK, so let’s act like we have never said anything but intelligent things all of the time. That all of the things we say on here are in no way something we heard, read or learned elsewhere and are repeating here so that people can learn from it. Cripes most of the game day stuff is copied and pasted from other sites.

    While we’re at it let’s also act like nobody has ever lost it in a public way like Larionov and pile on him and anyone showing any form of understanding. Why not? Heck I’ll join in here and mock myself.

    Ruprecht you actually read something Larionov18 wrote last week and viewed at as “furthering the conversation”? You don’t know too much do you? He just got mad and spammed a 30 post thread, and ruined my reading for 45 seconds…I’ll never get that time back, ever.

    @NM00
    Since you accused me NM00, I’m not a Flames fan. I am here posting on a Canuck forum because I cheer for the Canucks, not against them. I post here because I enjoy the banter. I’ve enjoyed many conversations that I wouldn’t normally have had and they sometimes take directions I learn from.

    You still skirted around the answer so I’ll ask you directly. Who is your team and what is your motivation for posting here?

    I ask this not to slight you in any way, it’s just I’m curious because you tend to waiver. It would be nice to get some background of the person I enjoy conversing with. You pretty much know mine. To me, yours is cloaked in trolldom.