The Chicago Blackhawks pulled the trigger on a late-night move Thursday, trading young defenseman Adam Clendening to the Vancouver Canucks for even-younger defenseman Gustav Forsling. The team announced the deal with a statement from GM Stan Bowman:
"We are excited to add Gustav to a strong group of young talent in our organization," said Vice President/General Manager Stan Bowman. "He was one of the best players at the World Junior Championships a few weeks ago and this season has emerged as a regular contributor in the top professional league in Sweden. He’s an offensive defenseman that plays very well on the power play and has a big shot."
The description sounds pretty similar to what Clendening brought to the table, though Forsling is just 18 years old and currently playing in his native country. Clendening, on the other hand, is 22 years old and much further along with his waiver status, making the reasoning behind this deal somewhat clear.
Clendening and Forsling are pretty similar, just different points of waiver status. VAN got a slightly better player but has to play now.— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) January 30, 2015
Losing Clendening is a bummer, but the Blackhawks still have a number of young defensemen who should be ready to contribute in the next year. Between David Rundblad, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Stephen Johns and Klas Dahlbeck, there was enough talent already in the system for Bowman to justify shipping off Clendening.
Forsling, meanwhile, seems to be a pretty good prospect. While he's not nearly as polished as the older Clendening, he seems to be held in strong regard by prospect evaluators and could be a nice gamble for a team that's always seeking high-level talent. He might not end up being any better than Clendening down the road, but the 'Hawks essentially gave up an expendable asset for the chance at something much more interesting.
Clendening appeared in four games with the Blackhawks this season, recording one goal and one assist. With AHL Rockford, he recorded 13 points in 38 games this season, a significant drop in production from the 59 points he put up in 2013-14.