Cody Eakin is a 21 year old center who hails from Winnipeg, Manitoba. He broke into the NHL with the Washington Capitals last season after being called up from the AHL’s Hershey Bears on November 1st, sticking with the team intermittently through February. He briefly returned in late March for a single game, playing an even 30 games at the NHL level. Eakin became a Dallas Star at the NHL Draft, being traded along with a second round draft pick in return for center Mike Ribeiro. The trade was the first in what would be a series of moves to remake the Dallas Stars roster. The move signified General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk’s commitment to solve the center depth that plagued the organization.
Eakin spent most of his Major Junior career with the Swift Current Broncos, but was traded in his final year of Juniors to the Kootenay Ice. In 238 total WHL games played, Eakin produced 239 points, averaging just over a point a game. He was a key part of Kootenay’s run to the WHL Championship, putting up a dominate 27 points in 19 playoff games. He spent much of his first year of professional hockey going up and down between the Capitals and the Bears. His 13 goals and 27 points in 43 total AHL games may not seem impressive at face value, but for a then-20 year old getting his first taste of professional hockey in the midst of numerous call ups, it should be viewed as a step in the right direction. The detractors also take Eakin’s 4 goals and 8 points in 30 NHL games as another unimpressive stat. Again, the numbers may seem lacking at face value, but numbers certainly aren’t everything. Eakin played a primarily 3rd and 4th line role with the Capitals and averaged a paltry 9:17 of ice time a game. For a 20 year old straight out of Major Juniors with little AHL experience, 8 points in 30 games as a bottom six rookie isn’t bad at all. In fact, as an optimist, I’d say those numbers are a huge step forward in his development. His 30 games of NHL experience will give him a head start in training camp and make him all the more likely to be a roster player come the first game of the season.
The addition of Derek Roy, Jaromir Jagr, and Ray Whitney solidified the Stars top six, opening the door for a brawl to win spots in the bottom six. If Cody Eakin makes the team out of training camp, something management and fans should be fully expecting, then Eakin could position himself as the Stars third or fourth line center with the capability to move up and down the lineup if need be. I don’t think anyone out there is expecting Eakin to put up 20 goals and 50 points in his first full NHL season, but fans and critics alike will be looking for a significant improvement from the 8 points in 30 games he produced last season. This is his chance to make a spot for himself on a team filled with a unique balance of youth and veterans, a chance to secure a spot in the Stars lineup for years to come. Eakin’s ceiling is high and as he ages and gets more experience, his game can only improve. Most Stars fans haven’t seen much from Eakin, but we all know just how important he is to the team, both in what his trade represented for the future of the Dallas Stars, and the potential he brought with him.
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