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Top 25 under 25: Adam Clendening is quietly awesome at #11

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The 24-year-old from Niagara Falls is ready to become a Coyotes lynchpin this season

New York Rangers v New Jersey Devils Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

#11 - Adam Clendening - Right Defenseman

Where did he come from?: FA signing from NYR, July 1st 2017

Rank last year: N/A

Has he played NHL yet?: Yes (81 games with 6 teams, 4 goals, 18 assists)

About Adam Clendening:

Here’s the thing. If this was a list being made in 2018, Adam Clendening would be far higher on it. If it was a list being made for most other NHL teams, he’d be far higher on it.

But the fact that he doesn’t crack the top ten in Arizona is a measure of just how much young talent and potential the Coyotes have.

After all, what the Coyotes have here in the 6’, 200lb rearguard is a 24-year-old defenseman who can skate beautifully and read the game like a forward, while also being strong and responsible in his own end. They have a player who is producing at a top-4 level and has been for the past few seasons while being paid less than many rookie contracts.

They have the kind of player that, paying attention to analytics, allows you to pluck from teams who can’t, won’t, or for whatever reason, simply don’t appreciate what they have - one with no hype at all.

Here’s another thing. You may not know what Adam Clendening can do right now, but by the end of the season, you will, and so will the rest of the NHL. We’ve gone into depth in exactly why Clendening is so good when he was first signed, but, with the injury to Jakob Chychrun, his importance has suddenly grown and he has a legitimate chance to cement top-4 time this season.

So what’s next for Adam Clendening?

By that, you mean “what’s next for a top-4 defenseman who may finally get the chance to be used like one?”. A job in the top 4 is now Clendening’s to lose. The top pair is all but confirmed as Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Niklas Hjalmarsson, but below that there’s room for a whole bunch of combinations, and Clendening is in a lot of them as part of the second pair. This season is likely his big chance - the one where he’ll finally get the ice time his production would seem to deserve.

If he continues to perform the same way and rises to the challenge, the sky could be the limit.