By Jay Zawaski-
(CBS) On Thursday night, the Blackhawks announced that they had traded defenseman Adam Clendening to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for 18-year old Swedish defenseman Gustav Forsling, who has experience with his junior national team and most recently has compiled five points in 35 games for Linkoping of the Swedish Hockey League.
I know what you’re thinking. Why would the Blackhawks trade a young, NHL-ready defenseman for a defenseman who is two or three years away from getting a shot in Chicago? This is a fair question. After all, Clendening was one of the prime candidates for the sixth or seventh defenseman spot entering training camp this season. He and Klas Dahlbeck were considered the favorites to end up with the big club.
That is, of course, until Trevor van Riemsdyk blew the socks off of the Chicago brass and made the big club. Since then, Clendening has regressed in the eyes of the organization, and he suddenly found himself behind van Riemsdyk, Dahlbeck, David Rundblad, Tim Erixon, Stephen Johns, Ville Pokka and even perhaps T.J. Brennan in the organization’s depth chart. The bottom line was Clendening had too many players to leap-frog to offer the organization any value, and any demotion next season with him would’ve exposed him to waivers.
With the trade, the Blackhawks flipped a player in Clendening who will likely play for the Canucks this season and perhaps be a real contributor in exchange for a prospect with a ton of upside. In two or three years when Forsling is ready to make the leap to the NHL, the Chicago could have a slot or two open. Forsling, in the team’s eyes, has more upside than Clendening.
Now, if Clendening plays well for Vancouver, try to think long term in your analysis of the trade. This deal isn’t about today. It’s about reloading the pipeline with the best talent available so the organization can contend after this core is broken, old and retired. Preparing for the future is never a bad idea.
Jay Zawaski is the executive producer of the Spiegel and Mannelly Show on 670 The Score and the Blackhawks columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JayZawaski670.