The Vancouver Canucks have traded 18-year-old prospect defenceman Gustav Forsling to the Chicago Blackhawks for 22-year-old defenceman Adam Clendening.
The deal may be a bit of a shock to Canucks fans because Forsling was so impressive at the World Juniors. However the argument can be made that the Canucks just sold high on their recent 5th round pick, as Clendening was a 2nd round pick by the Blackhawks in 2011.
Regarded as one of the best defence prospects of the Blackhawks, Clendening is now looking to make the full time jump to the NHL. Clendening has impressed in the AHL, putting up 59 points in 74 games last season with the Rockford IceHogs. Chicago was forced into this type of deal based on their defensive depth and the fact that Clendening will need to clear waivers next season.
Clendening is an offensive defenseman blessed with superb puck-moving ability and on-ice vision. His excellent puck skills are one reason why many scouts are so high on Clendening. He can see plays develop and follows them quite well. He can also be found frequently jumping into plays too. Clendening’s ability to move the puck and patience with it makes him an ideal quarterback on the power play. He makes very good decisions with the puck and distributes the puck very well. Clendening can also control the tempo of the game from the blue line. He is an excellent skater with good speed that can keep up with many of the faster opposing forwards. He also transitions quite well too. One area where Clendening will need to improve is keeping his feet moving more consistently. While he is known for his offensive prowess, Clendening is also solid defensively. He doesn’t shy away from the physical side of the game and plays with a good deal of intensity. However, Clendening could stand to utilize his intensity and grit more to the benefit of his team. He possesses a very good shot and can get pucks to the net by taking quality chances.
I expect Clendening to be recalled for the Canucks as early as Friday. Clendening has already seen 4 games of action this year with Chicago, including his first career goal:
A 5th round pick in the 2014 draft, Gustav Forsling was an unknown commodity to most Canucks fans heading into this tournament. But after his performance, he won’t be unknown for much longer. Forsling was quarterbacking the Swedish power play with Maple Leafs 1st round pick William Nylander. The power play was dynamic, going 6-for-30, with Forsling scoring 3 of those goals with the man advantage. Forsling ended the tournament as the leading scorer among defencemen and earned a spot on the tournament all-star team.
Forsling is still quite slender (172 lbs) but he positions himself well in the defensive zone and uses his long reach to avoid being overpowered. So there shouldn’t be concern about Forsling just being a power play quarterback. Forsling is eligible to return to the World Juniors next year, and I fully expect him to shine.
He will return to the Swedish Hockey League for the rest of this season. Every team needs a defenceman that can run their power play, and it looks like the Canucks might have that in Forsling.
Even though Forsling had a great World Junior tournament, he is still a question mark prospect:
@SDelarg forsling is a fifth-round project who is way skinny and gets blown up in his own end on the regular.
— Jason Botchford (@botchford) January 30, 2015
I was very excited about Forsling as a prospect but this simply comes down to Canucks management trading a prospect who may make it to the NHL in 4-5 years, for a player with a bigger upside who can probably play right away.
Feaure Image: espn.com