BUFFALO – There are, of course, good and bad things about the nomadic hockey life Adam Clendening has experienced for three seasons, the New York Rangers defenseman said.
On one hand, the Wheatfield native has seen six NHL cities and met hundreds of teammates. On the other hand, five years into his pro career, Clendening, 24, has never lasted longer than 20 games in one spot.
“You always want to find a home and be able to play every night,” Clendening, who will return tonight against the Sabres after sitting 11 straight games, said this afternoon inside KeyBank Center. “So it’s been fun but difficult.”
Consider what has transpired since the Chicago Blackhawks, who gave Clendening a four-game look, traded him to the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 29, 2015.
– Clendening played 17 games with the Canucks before they traded him to the Pittsburgh Penguins on July 28, 2015.
– He lasted nine games with the Penguins before they dealt him to the Anaheim Ducks on Jan. 15.
– The Ducks played him zero games before the Edmonton Oilers claimed him on waivers Jan. 27.
– He played 20 times with the Oilers, recording six of his 13 NHL points. Still, they didn’t re-sign him. The Rangers inked him to a one-year, $600,000 contract July 1.
Naturally, it’s nice feeling being wanted, Clendening said.
“But at the same time, maybe just not (wanted) enough,” he said. “It’s part of the game, part of the business. Hopefully, (I can) find a home for a little bit longer.”
Like in his other stops, Clendening has become the team’s seventh defenseman. He hasn’t played since Nov. 6. Tonight will be just his second appearance in the last last 20 games and his seventh this season.
But Clendening respects the dues-paying process.
“Wanting to play but also realizing the situation you’re in is part of realizing the position that I am in,” he said. “(There are) probably not too many guys in the room that also haven’t done the same thing and waited their time.”
His time could arrive someday. Right-handed, puck-moving defensemen with offensive upside – he averaged 53 points in his two full AHL seasons – are always coveted.
Clendening said he didn’t know what kind of role to expect with the Rangers. He played the first five games this season.
“It’s not really up to me,” he said. “I understand we have a winning team and we have a lot of veterans. It’s hard to change things when you’re winning.”
The 16-7-1 Rangers have already scored 88 goals, a stunning 3.7 a game. Clendening has contributed two assists to those gaudy numbers from eras long gone.
“I can play to my strengths (with the Rangers), move the puck, help out on the power play, join the rush, create a little bit of offense,” he said. “It’s been working when I was in the lineup.”
Tonight will be Clendening’s third NHL appearance in Buffalo.