Chicago Blackhawks: Adam Clendening Still Needs Work on the Blueline

Jon FromiSenior Analyst IMarch 20, 2017

ST PAUL, MN - JUNE 25:  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)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks have to be pleased with the way rookie defenseman Adam Clendening has performed offensively so far in Rockford. The second-round pick of the Blackhawks in 2011, the former Boston University skater has been everything scouts predicted in terms of his ability to chip into the scoring column.

That said, Clendening is far from being an NHL-ready blue-liner.

Paired with Nick Leddy on the IceHogs' top defensive duo, it is Clendening and not Leddy who is leading the rear guard in scoring. With four goals and 16 helpers in 24 games this season, Clendening not only leads Rockford defensemen with 20 points, he's fifth in the AHL among defensive scorers.

In fact, Clendening is sixth overall in rookie scoring and trails only Justin Schultz of Oklahoma City for top rookie scoring honors on the blue line. He has points in ten of his last 13 games dating back to November 18.

On that night, he posted his first multi-point effort with a goal and an assist at the Xcel Energy Center in a loss to Houston. Clendening has had five other two-point nights since then and nearly doubled (two goals, nine assists) Leddy's offensive output this season.

However, there is more to the NHL game than offense and Clendening's game in his own zone leaves a lot to be desired at this stage of his development.

At 5'11" and 190 pounds, he's not a big guy on defense. Opposing forwards have had little difficulty getting around Clendening on the way to the net and he has been turnover-prone. The top pairing has given up a lot of big scoring chances.

There is a lot to like about Clendening in his first professional season, but its fair to point out that his play in his own zone needs to catch up with his offensive prowess.

Lebda Nearing a Crossroads: Veteran defenseman Brett Lebda will be the subject of discussion by the IceHogs as he nears the end of his professional tryout agreement. Lebda has played in 18 games on a 25-game contract.

Lebda has a lot of NHL experience but hasn't really made a big impact on the IceHogs back end. His minus-ten rating is the worst on the team, and he has eight assists on the season. Not exactly what you would expect from a guy who has played almost 400 games with Detroit, Toronto and Columbus.

On one hand, Lebda could provide valuable assistance in bringing along a young blue-line group. On the other, Rockford has Ben Youds down in Toledo who coach Ted Dent really seems to like. Lebda may also want to roll the dice in Europe when his PTO is up in the next couple of weeks.

IceHogs Drop A Pair, Pick Up A Point: Rockford pulled aside Grand Rapids atop the AHL's Midwest Division over the weekend, though the Griffins have three games in hand.

The IceHogs suffered an overtime loss in Milwaukee Friday, then returned to the BMO Center and dropped a 6-4 decision to Hamilton Saturday. Rockford is now 13-12-1-1 and sits in the eighth slot in the Western Conference.

Rockford continues to be a streaky bunch, losing four in a row after winning four straight. The IceHogs have two games in Milwaukee this week before hosting Abbotsford Saturday.

Roster Moves: Returning to Rockford after a short stretch in Toledo was forward Philippe Paradis. Moving in the opposite direction was Brenden Svendsen, who was loaned out to the Walleye Monday.

Svendsen, who has an AHL-contract with Rockford, has not played yet this season as he rehabbed an arm injury. Paradis has a pair of assists and several healthy scratches in Rockford and was pointless in five contests with Toledo.