Editor's Note: The Blues have quite a few UFAs whose futures need close examination. This is an ongoing pro/con debate on the fates of each of them.
Ever encounter things that you think are useful because they have a certain name, but you find out later that they're really not all that useful because they're just not that good?
I remember this happening in my house when I was young. Mom and Dad bought an Oreck XL. It had a great name. It promised to be a great product. It replaced our old, reliable Electrolux sweeper . . . a machine that was likely on its' last days. Well, the Oreck fucking broke within two weeks. We never bought another one, and I swore never to buy one after seeing how much of a piece of plastic shit that thing was.
To me, Adam Cracknell is very much akin to that Oreck XL.
Not that he blows (really, he doesn't).
Hear me out . . . everyone knows the name ("RELEASE THE CRACKNELL!!!1!). He's been here before. We feel like every time we hear his name, he's going to be something of use. But then we play him for a stretch of time, and while he does well for a little while, we find out quickly that he . . . well, he is what he is. He's big, but he can't skate. He has hands like rocks. He tries to defend, he really does, but . . . well, the speed thing.
He's never broken like a cheap piece of plastic garbage. But what does he bring to the table that others at the NHL level don't or can't, really?
I can recall when Cracknell came back to the Blues organization shortly before the trade deadline. Speculation among Blues Twitter was rampant about putting the CPR Line back together. You know how Blues Twitter loves their fourth liners. Had it been at the expense of Steve Ott, I guess it would've been great.
But that wasn't the case. Cracknell was acquired solely to be used on the top line for the Chicago Wolves, and that's pretty much the peak of the rest of his career at this point. And that's totally okay. He did his job there.
But that doesn't at all mean he should stick around.
To wit . . . Cracknell signed a free agent deal with the Kings last year, was waived when he didn't make the final roster, was claimed by the Blue Jackets, played a few games there when everyone on that roster was dying, was sent back to their AHL affiliate and then was traded to the Blues organization when the Wolves were at their most desperate. Now, the fact he traveled as much as he did last season could be a testament to how many teams "wanted" or "needed" him. Or, it could be that he's not particularly great.
I'm more inclined to believe the latter. Cracknell turns 30 in July and has played exactly 82 more regular season National Hockey League games than I ever will, but it's time to let go of any kind of allure anyone has for this guy. He'll never deliver to the level you want or need him to. And that's fine, if he's on another team.
He's peaked. We know what we're getting from Cracknell at the NHL level (and it sure as shit isn't much), and there's really no reason for his presence to block the path of the youth movement that could be coming soon to this team, with guys like Ty Rattie and Robby Fabbri and Ivan Barbashev and on and on and on.
(And yes, I realize the youth are better than a fourth-line plug and would get playing time as such, but if you also believe players on the bottom end of the roster don't have an effect on the playing time of young players of that ilk, well, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. Especially if you choose to want some skill on your fourth line from time to time, which is kind of a trend in today's NHL, if you're not paying attention.)
So, if another team out there wants to sign a biggish guy who tries hard but can't skate with the NHLers and has hands of stone, by all means, let them give him a look . . . and I'll wish Cracknell all the best, because he seems to deserve the best of luck.
Hopefully, he deserves such luck on someone else's roster.