As the Dallas Stars came off the ice after Monday's practice, forward Adam Cracknell was waiting. There were handshakes and a few hugs.
About an hour earlier, the New York Rangers claimed Cracknell off waivers, and the 31-year-old forward was about to be on his way to New York.
"It's exciting. I know it's an opportunity for me again. It's kind of the story of my career, and I've got to take advantage of it again," Cracknell said. "Obviously, I wanted to be here, but at the end of the day, this is part of the job. I've got to go there and adjust and play my game again, and help the team win."
Cracknell will be joining his eighth NHL team in the Rangers. A Calgary draft pick, he's also been part of the St. Louis, Los Angeles, Columbus, Vancouver, Edmonton and Dallas organizations. Last season was a breakout year for him. Signed by the Stars as a free agent, he was expected to play in the AHL, but when injuries struck he won a roster spot and set career highs in goals (10), assists (6) and points (16). That earned him a one-way contract for this season.
But with the Stars making some big offseason moves and prospects pushing hard, Cracknell was in a fight for a roster spot in camp. He made the roster, but was a scratch in the season opener and then played Saturday against St. Louis. The Stars placed him on waivers Sunday. Cracknell believes former Stars coach Lindy Ruff, now an assistant with the Rangers, probably played a role in New York claiming him Monday morning.
Video: Morning Skate: Methot
"With the changes this team made this summer you are looking forward to what this team could have done. I'll still be watching and see how these guys are doing," Cracknell said. "You knew it was going to be a battle for roster spots and this is how it plays out sometimes. I had a good year last year, and I've kept good relationships with coaches I've played with. I've got to keep going that way and hopefully have another season like I did last year."
With an open roster spot up front, the Stars, who are expected to call up a forward from the AHL, can now add some speed to the lineup. The Stars have several players who made strong impressions in training camp and the preseason.
"There are a number of players who are playing awfully well down there who have a really strong dynamic," Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They had great camps, so there is going to be a tough choice. You can't be wrong if you are picking one of the four guys. There are some players there, based on training camp and exhibition games, that deserved to start the year with us."
Hitchcock said adding speed is key considering the pace of play the first few days of the regular season.
"The league has gone up another gear. This is a frenetic pace like I have never seen before. Now, I realize this is the start of the year," Hitchcock said. "Anybody that is a bigger, heavy-footed player at times - it doesn't matter who you are - you are really going to have to work to get up to this pace. If this pace doesn't drop, it's going to be very interesting come Christmastime to see what the league looks like."
Injury notes: Hanzal expected to play Tuesday
Center Martin Hanzal, who left Saturday's game in St. Louis with a lower-body injury, skated before practice and then skated with the team for about half the on-ice session in Frisco Monday morning. Hitchcock said Hanzal is probable for Tuesdays' game against Detroit. "We're thinking that he is going to play," Hitchcock said. "He took the first 25 minutes of practice today, and then I pulled him out when we had the team drills that had contact just to make sure."
Defenseman Dan Hamhuis did not practice Monday. He's nursing a sore groin. He played through the issue Saturday in St. Louis, where he was a game-time decision, and the Stars skated Julius Honka in warm-ups just in case. "He's going to be a game-time decision tomorrow like he was (Saturday in St. Louis)," Hitchcock said. "We'll wait and see how he feels."
Goaltender Ben Bishop said he is fine after taking a puck to the mask and being forced to leave Friday's season opener against Vegas. Bishop was cut near his eye and needed eight stitches. "Feeling good. Just a couple of stitches. The eye was a little swollen the next day, but it's fine now," Bishop said. "Probably could have gone if necessary in St. Louis, but just let the swelling go down and obviously ready for tomorrow."
Hitchcock juggled his lines a bit in Monday's practice. The top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov stayed together, but Devin Shore moved up to right wing on the second line with center Jason Spezza and left wing Mattias Janmark. Martin Hanzal had Radek Faksa and Brett Ritchie on his wings. Gemel Smith centered Antoine Roussel and Tyler Pitlick.
So, is that what Hitchcock rolls with Tuesday against Detroit?
"It depends on where we play Hanzal and Faksa," Hitchcock said. "I think the one line you can say is going to play tomorrow is the Spezza line. We're going to put that line together and see how it looks."
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Mattias Janmark - Jason Spezza - Devin Shore
Radek Faksa - Martin Hanzal - Brett Ritchie
Antoine Roussel - Gemel Smith - Tyler Pitlick
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Marc Methot - Stephen Johns
Jamie Oleksiak - Julius Honka
Not skating: Dan Hamhuis (groin)
This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.