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Blackhawks prospect Adam Clendening eager for chance at NHL

Adam Clendening is one of a few defensemen at the Blackhawks’ prospect camp this week knocking on the door of an NHL career.

But the 21-year-old ­expressed confidence that he was ready for a team to answer his knock.

“I’ve played two years in the American League,” Clendening said when asked if he is ready for the NHL. “But that time there really helped me. Worked on my defensive side of the puck and got to play against the other team’s best players for two years. Some of those guys are now playing in the NHL.”

Clendening is an offensive-minded defenseman who admits he likes to play with the puck. He is especially good on the power play, where he has proven to be an outstanding point man.

Those are all positive attributes. But if a defenseman wants to play for coach Joel Quenneville, he had better be able to play in his zone.

Clendening knows that’s an area in which he needs to improve. He said that playing with Nick Leddy and Ryan Stanton before they moved on to the NHL helped his defensive game.

When asked about his defense, he put a little bit of an offensive perspective on things.

“The better you are defensively, the easier it is in the NHL and the quicker you get the puck back, and I like to play with the puck,” Clendening said. “So the easier it is for me to get the puck back, [the more it] allows me to play to my strength. So I think [about] the defensive side of the puck everywhere.”

Clendening understands that the Hawks are over the salary cap, which will make some roster changes necessary. He has followed the roster situation closely.

“Even if they weren’t over the cap or anything, [I would try] to come in and take a job,” he said. “You look at it and somehow they get underneath [the cap], a spot opens up. You obviously follow it, and you want to play for the Hawks.”

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen



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