(UPDATE: The Oilers have claimed Clendening.)
The Anaheim Ducks have waived 23-year-old defenseman Adam Clendening, according to multiple sources Tuesday.
On the one hand this could be seen coming down the pike, with the return of both Cam Fowler and Simon Despres to the team’s crowded-when-healthy blue line there simply isn’t room for Clendening.
On the other hand it’s a little surprising. The Ducks just acquired Clendening from Pittsburgh as a part of a deal that brought David Perron into the fold. They had to know he’d need to be passed through waivers in the near future and that there may be teams interested in acquiring him for what amounts to nothing, which makes him an odd piece of the deal unless they had no interest in him and agreed to take him to help Pittsburgh clear cap. (But if Pittsburgh passed him through waivers his cap hit there would be negligible and they have a thin blue line.)
There have been rumblings that the crowded Anaheim blue line might force general manager Bob Murray into negotiating a trade. In that scenario, maybe Clendening becomes a third-pairing fill-in who can try to rekindle his game on a defensively sound team where there’s a little less pressure on him.
Now they risk losing him for a few thousand dollars. It’s a difficult situation for Bob Murray, who has an embarrassment of riches on defense and has a slow, aging forward group that has grossly underperformed this season. To lose a defenseman for nothing, even if that was a risk they’re really ok with, feels like a loss. A late round draft pick looks good compared to nothing.
For his part, Clendening, a 2nd round pick in 2011 by the Chicago Blackhawks, has been bouncing around a lot and hasn’t delivered on the offensive promise of his youth. In two years at Boston University he played well and contributed quite a bit offensively. He was also a big factor for the U.S. at the World Junior Championship where he was named to the All-Star team and led the tournament in goals, assists and points by a defenseman.
After two years at BU, he moved into his pro career, grabbing two seasons with the Rockford IceHogs where he was effective. That was particularly true in his second season, when he scored 12 goals and 59 points in 74 games. He was a First-Team AHL All-Star that season.
Yet, the following year he wasn’t able to replicate his success in the AHL or NHL. He grabbed his NHL debut and four games with Chicago before being moved to Vancouver where he just two assists in 17 games. Through a total of 49 AHL games he posted just two goals and 16 assists.
He wasn’t able to rekindle that touch in limited NHL or AHL time inside the Penguins organization either and has yet to grab a game at either level with the Ducks.
The potential is still there for him. He’s only a season and a half removed from being a real offensive force in the AHL. It’s hard to imagine a team outside the playoff picture not stepping up and giving him a shot.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.