Dallas Stars 2013-2014 Season Grades: Cody Eakin

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Is he offensive-minded? Is he a checking line center? He was asked to be both for stretches of the 2013-2014 season.

Once again it's that time of year here on Defending Big D where we take a look at each player that suited up for ~20 or more games this season (and finished the season with the team) - and take a look back at their season. What was good about it, what wasn't so good, and the lasting impression they left us as we go into summer.

What is Cody Eakin?

It's a question that was asked last year at this time and into training camp as Shawn Horcoff and Rich Peverley seemed poised to grasp that number-two center position under Lindy Ruff as the position stabilized after a bevy of off-season activity.

Except Rich Peverly's future is uncertain. Shawn Horcoff, capable though he was in the playoffs, does not seem to aging as gracefully as some would prefer in an inhospitable Western Conference full of big bodies and young legs. Vern Fiddler's time here may be done.

And so the Stars, though they have Tyler Seguin, face another summer full of the same: How are we going to sort this number-two center thing out?

Regular season statistics:

GP G A Pts PIMs +/- TOI Corsi Rel OZ starts
81 16 19 35 20 -9 17:19 +1.7% 49.3%

Playoff statistics:

GP G A Pts PIMs +/- TOI Corsi Rel OZ starts
6 2 3 5 0 2 18:32 -11.7% 43.6%

Did Cody Eakin fail as a number-two center? He was fourth on the team in scoring. He potted 16 goals. He saw his plus minus fluctuate with his linemates- First Ray Whitney and Alex Chiasson, whose struggles were well publicized- Then with Antoine Roussel and Ryan Garbutt.

Roussel and Garbutt were the headliners of that trio- Their blazing speed on display. What was Cody Eakin? Was he the central cog of that unit, as centers must be in most cases? Was he just along for the ride those two wild and crazy guys conducted? Was he the responsible party when the proverbial excrement started heading back toward Kari Lehtonen's net?

Probably all of the above?

It was a good line- one that had a clear purpose. One that excelled in the post-season, at times. His five points in six games were great, including a couple of huge goals.

"Is that good enough?" is what Jim Nill will have to decide. When you look around at the pillars of the conference- the guys you want to be when you grow up- you see the likes of Mike Richards in Los Angeles (41 points) or Andrew Shaw (39) in Chicago and you see that these numbers are not all that far apart from what Eakin did.

And other number-two centers do it with better (offensive) talent on their wings. Those lines are designed to be more more offensive in nature than a combination of Eakin, Roussel and Garbutt.

So when judging Eakin's season, do you see him as an offensive guy that didn't have the quality wingers he needed to succeed in that capacity, or as a defensive minded pivot whose use was realized with strong defensive play, particularly at home matching up against the league's best?

It's a good question for the Stars and a good question for us. As you consider Jason Spezza, Paul Stastny, Ryan Kesler, etc, ponder what Eakin might do with a bonafide goal-scorer on his left or right. Either scenario could play out- Though chances seem good Eakin is still the second best center on the roster come September.

All things considered, he did a pretty good job of it this season with a mixed bag of supporting cast, and even a mixed bag of roles.

Though, a second-line center that could pilot a second power play unit...

Here's Eakin's game winner in game four. The rush is great, but the last few feet and the patience to move back into the middle of the ice are what makes it when everyone, including the goaltender, expected a shot to come just a second sooner. The room he creates for himself by drifting back in is great...


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