The Problems With Craig Adams
Craig Adams has always been the type of player who, despite limited skills, found a way to contribute to his team. But as he has aged, those contributions have dwindled. This year, by most measures, he is now hurting the team. Here are three reasons why.
One, he stinks. He was never good. But at least he was good at what he did. He could never play hockey well, but he could at least be counted on to be good in his own end and on the penalty kill. He was never fast, but his smarts allowed him to be in the right spot most of the time.
But now? He’s really not good at anything anymore. He has lost a step off his formerly glacial skating pace. When he’s on the ice, the pens have virtually zero chance of scoring a goal. They average 0.97 goals per 60 minutes at even strength when he’s out there, by far the worst among the players who have played more than 30 games. That means they would average less than a goal a game if guys like him played all 60 minutes.
Oh, what’s that you say? He makes up for it by being sound defensively? I guess it depends on your definition of “sound.” He ranks in the middle of the pack at 2.49. Brandon Sutter, the epitome of a smart defensive player leads the way at 1.64.
So, if you take the difference between the two, Adams ranks at the very bottom at -1.52. He’s one of only three minus players among regular forwards. Tanner Glass, another worthless hockey player, is at -1.03. Apparently, those two just feed off each other. Jussi Jokinen completes the list at -0.11. For comparison, Chris Kunitz is far and away the leader at +1.91.
Some would argue that he has value as a penalty killer. They might have a small point. Looking at the same differential as above, he ranks second among the four main penalty killers (Pascal Dupuis, Glass, and Sutter being the others). Sutter is far and away the best, while Dupuis and Glass are far worse. The numbers say he’s a mediocre penalty killer. The one weakness the Pens’ PK has had this year is the inability to score shorthanded goals. Theey’ve scored only two, and one of those was into an empty net. The lack speed among the penalty killers (Adams and Glass in particular) is a major reason for this. Is that nitpicking? Sure, maybe a little. But it does demonstrate Adams’s lack of speed.
The other two problems with Craig Adams are not really his, but Dan Bylsma’s. The first is his usage. Despite the above evidence, Bylsma continues to throw him out there against tough competition. Oops, not so fast. I had assumed that was the case. However, his Corsi Quality of Competition Ranks seventh among the nine “regular” forwards. So contrary to popular belief, he is not playing difficult minutes. Bylsma is off the hook on this one.
It’s on defensive zone start percentage where we see blame for Bylsma creep in. Adams starts more shifts in the defensive zone than any other forward at 58.7 percent. So Bylsma continues to trust him despite what the numbers and the eye test would tell us. This is inexplicable.
Adams’s third problem can also be traced back to Bylsma. He has spent more time on the ice with Tanner Glass than with any other player. As stated earlier, these two seem to feed off each other. They are basically twins. They are slow. They can’t score. They can’t pass. They will fight a little. In short, they suck at hockey. But, hey, they’re good teammates, right? They’ll do anything they can to win a hockey game. Unfortunately, they can’t do anything very well. And when you pair them together, it’s just disaster waiting to happen. As we look toward the playoffs, it’s doubtful the Pens can survive with this configuration. You might be able to get by with one guy like this in the lineup. But two? Highly doubtful.
The bottom line is that Craig Adams is simply not very good at hockey. He never was, really. But Father Time has stolen what little ability he did have. He was a great a needed acquisition back in 2009. he helped them win a Cup. But loyalty will only get you so far. It’s time to cut ties with him, thank him for his great service, and get younger and faster on the fourth line. For Adams, it’s time to get on with his life’s work.