After ignoring repeated cries from his fan base to jump into the endless carousel that is the NHL waiver wire over the last number weeks, Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli finally decided to give them something to talk about. In what was really nothing more than a “shot in the dark” sort of move, the Oilers claimed the well-traveled Adam Clendening from Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday morning in hopes of improving their paper-thin backend.
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While there are undoubtedly those out there who are hoping Edmonton may have just “stolen” a solid prospect from right under the nose of one of their Pacific Division rivals, recognizing the player for what he is would be a far more reasonable approach to take. Let’s not forget that Clendening has just joined his fifth organization inside a period of twelve months. That doesn’t exactly scream prospect, now does it.
FYI…Clendening scouting report: bit like Dennis Wideman of the Flames. Good offensive instincts and can shoot the puck. Average skater
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) January 27, 2016
As you can tell from the above-pictured tweet from Oilers NOW host Bob Stauffer, there are reasons to like the move from a potential standpoint. With that said, teams are generally in no rush to give up on 23-year old defencemen with offensive upside and especially not one of the right-handed shooting variety. And yet, there he was sitting on the waiver wire for anyone to take. So what gives?
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With a cap-hit of $760,000 and restricted free agency on the horizon, how exactly does moving a guy with apparent upside make any sense? Perhaps this little nugget from ESPN’s Corey Pronman can help shed some light on why the former second-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks finds himself jumping from one organization to another.
Very skilled puck mover, creative, poor defensive hockey sense, takes too many bad risks w puck. https://t.co/A31tOBh42X
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) January 27, 2016
Not sure about all of you but does that not sound a tad like a certain player that currently wears No. 19 in Orange and Blue? And while the two players price tags are quite different, my guess is Justin Schultz is the far better player. Both have enjoyed success at the collegiate and AHL levels but only one has developed into an everyday player. Now we can argue just how effective Schultz is but at the end of the day, there is no question he belongs in the NHL. The same thing cannot be said about Clendening.
Opportunity Knocks But…
It is no secret the Oilers will be open for business leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline on February 29 and chances are pretty good that Chiarelli will move at least one, if not two, of Mark Faye, Eric Gryba, and Schultz. My guess is the last two will be playing elsewhere in the very near future and when that occurs, Clendening will be handed the opportunity of a lifetime. If he can keep from being an absolute train wreck in his own end of the rink and help ignite a power play that desperately needs a hammer from the point, the American blueliner might just earn himself a job in 2016-17.
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Sound like a bit of a stretch? In my mind, there is almost zero chance of this thing playing out in said manner. Call me a pessimist if you like but I tend to look at these things in as realistic a manner as possible. Again, if this kid had shown any sign of developing into the sort of player we are talking about it, there would have been absolutely no chance of him hitting the waiver wire or being thrown into the David Perron for Carl Hagelin deal as nothing more than an afterthought.
Does that make the decision to pick up Adam Clendening a bad one? Hardly, as there was zero risk involved in going the route they did. If it doesn’t workout, the Edmonton Oilers can either let him walk or offer him a two-way deal to play with the Bakersfield Condors come next October. Should that be how things ultimately play out, no one need be disappointed because expecting to find a shiny new toy on the old scrap heap isn’t realistic. Again, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen but chances are quite good that this turns into a nothing move.
Rob Soria is the Author of Connor McDavid: Hockey’s Next Great One. He has chronicled the Orange and Blue since creating his Oil Drop blog in 2011 and has also had his writings featured over at HometownHockey.ca and Vavel USA, where he has covered the NHL, MLB and ATP Tour. Rob was born, raised and still resides in Edmonton, Alberta and can be reached via twitter @Oil_Drop.