Mention the next Blackhawks defenseman destined to come up through the ranks to find a spot with the big club and the one name that always pops up is Adam Clendening.
He has put in his time at Rockford, last season setting an IceHogs' franchise record for assists by a defenseman (47), ranking second among all AHL defensemen with 59 points and being named to the 2013-14 AHL first all-star team.
"Personally, yeah, I do (think I'm ready)," Clendening said at Hawks' Prospect Camp. "I've played two years in the American League and that time there has really helped me; worked on my defensive side of the puck and got to play against the other team's best players for two years and some of those guys are now playing in the NHL.
"So it's there, I guess, for the taking. If a spot opens up, it opens up. If not, just time to get better in the American League."
With the Hawks over the salary cap right now, there's a solid possibility a spot might indeed open up, and Clendening admits he's kept an eye on the situation but certainly hasn't obsessed about it.
"I'm always hopeful, even if they weren't over the cap or anything," he said. "But it's pretty easy to find out that they're over. Just pop on your phone and somebody will tell you. You look at it and somehow they get underneath it, a spot opens up, you obviously follow it and you want to play for the Hawks."
While his offensive numbers have been through the roof, Clendening likes the progress he's made on the defensive end.
"I think it has come pretty far," the 21-year-old said. "My first year I got to play with Nick Leddy during the lockout. I learned a lot from him. And then after that I got to play with Stants (Ryan Stanton), so he's in the NHL now, too. Seems like everybody I play with moves on.
"I got a chance to learn from those two guys and they know what they're doing on the defensive side of the puck and to play with them and learn from them has only helped and this year.
"It's definitely come a long way."
Maybe by the time training camp breaks, Clendening will have, too.
Rounding out the bench:
The Blackhawks on Monday filled the vacancy left with the departure of Jamie Kompon by hiring Kevin Dineen as an assistant coach.
Dineen, 50, who coached the Canadian women's national team to a gold medal in Sochi, served as the head coach of the Florida Panthers from 2011-13, and he was a teammate of Hawks coach Joel Quenneville on the Hartford Whalers from 1984-90.
"So excited about the opportunity to work with this group of people. World-class players and organization," Dineen tweeted Monday morning.
"Kevin brings proven leadership qualities, having served as an alternate captain and captain for several of his teams during his 19-year NHL career," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. "He will bring another well-respected voice to our coaching staff and we look forward to his contributions to our team."