Prior to 2017’s trade deadline, Patrick Eaves was my personal highlight of this season with the Dallas Stars. Sadly, we all know how trade deadline went, but after the departure of that glorious beard, Adam Cracknell’s quietly excellent season was there to fill the void.
The most interesting part about Cracknell’s first season with the Stars is that no one really expected him to spend the entirety of it in Dallas. Though a journeyman at 31 years old, Cracknell has never spent a full season with a major club and was signed on a two-way contract last summer. It was expected he’d spend most of his time in Cedar Park and be a reliable call up if needed.
This is the reason, by the way, that the dad’s trip with Dallas this season was the first his dad has gotten to go on. The closest he’s gotten to a full season prior to this one was 44 games with the Vancouver Canucks in 2015-16.
It doesn’t need to be said yet again that overwhelming injuries to the forward line up created quite the vacuum for lesser known forwards to shine, but I also don’t want to downplay how impressive Adam Cracknell was at camp. I even devoted an entire paragraph of my write up on the green vs white scrimmage to him.
So what exactly has been so impressive? Thanks to a handy player card from Micah McCurdy over at hockeyviz.com, I can point out a few good things at an easy glance:
Playing fewer minutes than most other fourth liners in the league, Cracknell had solid fourth line numbers in assists and goals. The team took more shots and faced fewer shots when he was on the ice, and scored a lot more goals with him than without him, on average. And, he spent more time playing the other team’s third line, meaning he was playing against (arguably) tougher competition.
Cracknell also raised the level of play of his linemates. They regularly had better possession with him on their line than they did in other combinations. Looking solely at corsi events for per 60 minutes of ice time, the line of Brett Ritchie, Adam Cracknell, and Curtis McKenzie was Dallas’ most effective line with over 100 minutes played together.
Was this greatness hiding in Cracknell all along and did the Stars just notice it because of the other injuries? How late a bloomer can a player really be? Or could it just be that Cracknell finally found the team chemistry he’d been looking for all along? Whatever the answer is, we’ve got at least one more season to find out. Cracknell signed a year extension back in March and assuming he doesn’t get stolen in the expansion draft, we’ll be seeing him back in victory green next year.
So what about you, friends?
What grade would you give Adam Cracknell?
This poll is closed
A - happy he’s back next year
B - I mean, it’s always nice to have depth
C - Should we have actually signed him again
D - It’s okay we signed him the first time but he should have been in Cedar Park
F - Why did we sign him at all