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What are the Blackhawks going to do with Adam Clendening?

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Will things be different in Clendening’s second stint with the organization?

Chicago Blackhawks v Calgary Flames Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images

The last three years have been a wild ride for Adam Clendening.

He was re-acquired by the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday evening, in a trade that was highlighted by the Arizona Coyotes sending speedy forward Anthony Duclair to the Hawks.

Clendening was originally drafted by the Blackhawks in the second round (36th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft. He made his NHL debut three years later, but appeared in just four games for Chicago before he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks for Gustav Forsling, who was just 18 years old at the time. Since that trade, Clendening has been a nomad. In July 2015, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins as part of the Nick Bonino/Brandon Sutter swap. six months later, he and David Perron were shipped west to the Anaheim Ducks for Carl Hagelin. Just eleven days after that, the Edmonton Oilers claimed him on waivers. After the 2015-16 NHL season, he signed a one-year deal with the New York Rangers and did the same with the Arizona Coyotes last summer.

He’s only played in 65 NHL games in the last 2.5 seasons, finding himself in the press box more often than not. He did post an impressive 56.7 CF% while appearing in 31 games for the 2015-16 Rangers, but those numbers were boosted by his offensive zone faceoff percentage of 68.3%.

The first time the Hawks traded Clendening away, they had a fairly stocked farm system, with names like Klas Dahlbeck, Trevor van Riemsdyk, and Stephen Johns still waiting to crack the NHL level. With the Vancouver Canucks in need of an NHL-ready defenseman, it made sense for general manager Stan Bowman to unload Clendening for a player with a high upside but was still a few years away from his NHL debut.

And there doesn’t appear to be much room in Chicago for Clendening this time, either.

Forsling, now 21, is one of three Blackhawks defensemen 25-and-under who are seeing regular playing time. And two more — Michal Kempny and Jan Rutta — are only 27. Clendening turned 25 in October and hasn’t been able to crack an NHL lineup regularly., while the other five players mentioned have.

It doesn’t get much better with the Rockford Ice Hogs, either, the team that Clendening reported to after the trade was finalized on Wednesday.

Cody Franson and Ville Pokka are the only players under contract with the Blackhawks, although both Darren Raddysh and Robin Press are younger than Clendening and could certainly be up for NHL contracts should their play warrant such consideration.

With other blue line prospects like 2017 first-round pick Henry Jokiharju, Luc Snuggerud, and Chad Krys also working their way up the Blackhawks’ system — and don’t forget the recently-recalled Erik Gustafsson — it’s hard to imagine that Clendening’s future with this organization is going to be anywhere but Rockford.