While most teams are busy on the opening day of free agency, the Los Angeles Kings have been notoriously quiet. That coupled with a Stanley Cup win left few, if any, Kings fans anticipating any signs of July 1. But the silver-and-black proved those people wrong as they signed a pair of grinders. First, it was Adam Cracknell and then David Van Der Gulik, both to one-year deals.
In Adam Cracknell, the Kings pick up a 6-foot-2, 210-pound winger who spent the previous five years with the St. Louis Blues organization. Last season, Cracknell split time between St. Louis and the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. In St. Louis last year, Cracknell notched two assists in 19 games while scoring 12 times and adding 13 assists in 28 games with the Wolves. Cracknell also scored a goal in the five playoff games he played for the Blues vs. Chicago this past spring.
In addition, Cracknell was the captain for St. Louis' AHL affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen, in 2011-12 so while he will most likely be fighting for a roster spot with, among others, Andy Andreoff at training camp, the 28-year-old does have leadership experience which never hurts.
At one year, $600,000, however, the signing of Adam Cracknell is a low-risk move, so the Kings and their fans really cannot go wrong.
As for David Van Der Gulik, the Kings also signed him to a one-year deal. The 31-year-old has two goals and 11 assists in 48 career NHL games, but 126 goals and 156 assists (282 points) in 478 career AHL games where he spent time with the Calgary and Colorado organizations.
This September, the winger will also be competing for a spot with the big club but do not be surprised if the 5-foot-10, 173-pounder starts next season in Manchester. But just like Cracknell, Van Der Gulik has captaincy experience, dating back to 2005-06 when he wore the C for his alma mater, Boston University.
The native of Abbottsford, British Columbia, was signed for $550,000.