June 3, 2011

BU's Clendening turning heads at combine

Adam Clendening (photo: Getty)

TORONTO — As the scouting combine wraps up this weekend, Adam Clendening can see the light at the end of the tunnel as the NHL Entry Draft rapidly approaches.

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Boston University defenseman arrived in Toronto with a pretty good idea of what to expect thanks to connections with college roommate, Charlie Coyle (East Weymouth, Mass.), who went through the process last year.

“The meetings have gone exactly like they said -- a lot of guys in the room,” Clendening told hockeyjournal.com. “(I’ve met) big-name GMs and former players and things like that. (Mostly the) same questions every meeting. The testing is supposed to be as hard as everybody says it is, so hopefully I’ll do well and see where that takes me.”

Clendening had a solid first year of college hockey with the Terriers. The adept puck-moving defender transitioned well to the higher competition level, seemed to hit the rookie wall at midseason and then picked it up down the stretch, finishing the year with five goals and 23 points in 35 games.

“I think it went very well overall,” he said of his first Hockey East campaign. “The team -- we underachieved as a group of guys, but I think we’ll come back ready next year. We have the same group of guys who love to work hard and hopefully we can put it together.

“From a personal standpoint, the season was very successful. (I) tied for the rookie lead in points as a D-man; the guy I tied with won Rookie of the Year (Coyle). That kind of stuff just speaks for itself and hopefully we can come back and do the same thing next year.”

Since the season ended in the early spring, Clendening has been working out with BU strength and conditioning coach Mike Boyle to get prepared for the physical challenge of the combine.

“I’ve been doing exactly what he says,” said Clendening. “The extra sprints, the extra lifts. Making sure (I) eat right- all that stuff. It all adds up after a while.”

One NHL scout taking a break from a meeting related that the 18-year-old had impressed during his interview with that team, showing off a maturity and the kind of confidence that reflects well. On the downside, he doesn’t have a lot of height and is an average skater. He makes up for those shortcomings with high-end hockey sense and passing skills.

“He’s a solid kid who has a winning pedigree,” the NHL scout said of Clendening. “There’s some real potential there for him to be effective at the next level if he keeps working at it.”

Clendening’s success this season and last year as a standout member of the U.S. NTDP and gold medal-winner at the 2010 World Under-18 Championships has drawn interest from multiple NHL clubs who are willing to invest a top-60 pick on a player who will take a few years to develop. Boston and Chicago are two teams who are rumored to be intrigued with Clendening’s NHL potential.

The Buffalo, N.Y., area native said that he’ll be thrilled with whichever NHL team drafts him, but admitted that his favorite team is the Bruins and not the hometown Sabres.

“The Bruins were always my favorite growing up,” he said. “It’s great that they’re in the finals and it’s going to be an awesome series.”

Kirk Luedeke can be reached at kluedeke@hockeyjournal.com.