Cody Eakin has been intensely scrutinized by Stars fans since he was added to the organization via a trade with Washington which sent long time Stars center and puck wizard Mike Ribeiro to the Washington Capitals. At first the deal was greeted with a lot of concern since, while Eakin showed promise, it left a huge hole at the second line center position. The Stars have addressed that issue with the addition of Derek Roy, so the thoughts on Eakin have become much more positive.
Eakin played the first half of the season with the Texas Stars where he immediately established himself as a leader both offensively and defensively. At this point, Eakin co-leads the Texas Stars in scoring with 23 points in 34 games and is a +7 on top of it all; he capped off his stint in Austin with an overtime winner against the Houston Aeros on January 6th.
On top of his offense, Eakin came to be relied on in shorthanded situations and towards the end of games. He showed a tenacity and willingness to go all out on every shift that surprised many including myself. Because of his speed, skill, and ferocious pursuit of the puck, Eakin has quickly become a favorite prospect among Stars fans and will enter NHL training camp with the expectations to crack the NHL roster.
Added to the above-mentioned ability and drive in all three zones, Eakin has two other factors working in his favor in terms of sticking with the Dallas Stars this season. First off, he fits exactly what the team needs right now. He's a gritty and fast center who will almost certainly play down the lineup when he comes in. Eakin will probably fill either the third or fourth line center role for the Stars, depending who he is lined up with and on Vernon Fiddler's line. His skill-set and position make it seem as though he's a perfect fit in what should turn out to be a tenacious, hard-hitting, and offensively capable bottom six for the Stars.
The second factor is the fact that he played 30 games with the Washington Capitals last season. He only scored eight points in those 30 games, but he was used in a bottom six role often on the fourth line, so he wasn't expected to contribute a ton offensively and also wasn't put in situations that would have allowed his offensive game to shine through. In Dallas, however, Eakin has the chance to play a more prominent role and get chances in offensive situations which should translate into more production.
Cody Eakin is an important piece for this franchise moving forward. At this stage in his career he will probably be looked at to anchor either of the bottom two lines which his gritty and fast paced style of play fits with as he hones his skills and continues to develop. In a couple of years we could see him become a fitting second line center. For now he has the best chance of any forward to stick with the big club for the duration of the season because of his pesky stars style of play and his ability to chip in offensively when it is needed.