The St. Louis Blues made a slightly odd move on Tuesday, placing forward Adam Cracknell on waivers with the intention of reassigning him to the AHL Chicago Wolves for the remainder of their playoff schedule. This comes following a strong postseason for the 28-year-old, who scored the Blues’ first postseason goal and registered an even rating.
This isn’t the first time the team has been apathetic about keeping Cracknell around. After a breakout performance during 2013 which saw him pick up two goals, four assists, and a plus-3 rating over 20 games and then provide great energy to the Blues during the playoffs on a line with Chris Porter and Ryan Reaves, the team signed him to his first one-way contract prior to 2013-14. Even the flat-rate NHL salary provided by that deal could not prevent the Blues from marginalizing his opportunities. Despite being a solid member of the fourth line when called upon, Cracknell was almost always a healthy scratch unless the Blues had an injury, and he played in just 17 games prior to being placed on waivers and later reassigned to Chicago on January 23. Even after rosters expanded following the trade deadline, the Blues chose to keep Cracknell in the AHL until he was absolutely needed following injuries to six of their top 12 forwards in early April.
With Cracknell being an upcoming free agent and the Blues having forwards like Dmitrij Jaskin and Ty Rattie who they want to be part of the NHL roster full-time, they might not care too strongly about whether he returns or not. At this point, they’re really taking no risk by waiving him other than allowing him to possibly establish a good reputation with another club if he ends up being claimed.
It’s difficult to see why a surviving playoff club wouldn’t want to claim Cracknell, unless they are pressed by salary cap concerns. There’s no more roster limit, so they wouldn’t have to risk losing another player, and any concerns about paying him long-term would be alleviated by the fact that he’s going to be a free agent. While teams probably don’t want to disrupt the lineups that have been working for them, there’s still a long way to go in the playoffs, and it can’t hurt to have a proven playoff contributor at your disposal if necessary.
It would be beneficial to the Wolves to get a player of Cracknell’s caliber, they should not count on him getting through waivers. With that said, it makes no difference to the Blues at this point, so it’s not a move that anyone should get too up in arms about. If they lose him for the remainder of the postseason, at least he will get to have a new opportunity to compete for the Cup.