It has recently been announced that the New York Rangers have signed Adam Clendening to a professional try-out. This comes as a bit of a surprise, as it was highly expected that the Rangers had concluded their offseason moves following the re-signing of Alexis Lafreniere. In what could be his return to the Blueshirts, Clendening comes as a questionable option for the Rangers’ sole PTO for the 2023-24 season.
What is the purpose of the Rangers bringing Clendening back?
Although Rangers’ GM Chris Drury has made a name for himself as one of the top general managers across the NHL, this signing raises some questions. The Rangers’ defensive corps is already filled to the brim with star talent, and there are already multiple candidates who could fill the only open roster spot next to Braden Schneider.
The Hartford Wolfpack, the Rangers’ AHL affiliate team, also appears to have a solid group of defensemen as well. It is possible that the Rangers could look to use a group of seven defensemen throughout the regular season, but it remains unclear who would fill that role.
One other possible explanation would be that the Rangers’ intend on calling Zac Jones up to the NHL level. The Wolfpack would need another player to replace Jones on their roster, but that could have been filled with any other defensive prospect in the Rangers’ system. It also remains unclear if the Rangers do intend on calling Jones up, as training camp has just begun. Time will tell what Drury’s plan is as the regular season approaches, but for now, the purpose of this signing remains a mystery.
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How likely are the Rangers to bring Clendening back full-time?
Due to a lack of room on both the NHL and AHL rosters, it would take an overwhelmingly impressive performance throughout the remainder of the offseason for the Rangers to sign Clendening to a full contract. Having split the 2022-23 season between the Wolfpack and the Rockford Icehouse, the veteran defenseman did manage to score 33 points in 68 games.
Despite this being a pretty solid showing, it’s nowhere near the level he would have to perform on an NHL stage to maintain a long-term roster spot. This PTO is likely just a test to bring in another level of competition for the younger defenseman competing for the NHL, as well as a potential backup plan in case the Wolfpack do, in fact, lose Jones to the NHL.