Cody Eakin has played 289 games for the Dallas Stars. After being acquired from Washington in the Mike Ribeiro trade, his role in Dallas has grown modestly each year. Eakin went from being a "pit bull" to shouldering first line centerman duties during the Stars stretch run while Tyler Seguin was injured.
Most would argue that the hat Eakin was ask to wear during the last 2 months of season, was too big. Or the wrong color. Or just altogether the wrong style.
Cody Eakin had his most successful season as a professional hockey player last year (2014-15) when he scored 19 goals, had 21 assists, won 50.8 percent of his faceoffs, and played in 78 games. It's interesting because Eakin was playing a largely defensive role on the team that season (55.2% dZS), and still managed his most successful NHL season.
This year Eakin's output was a bit more troubling. His 35 points (16G 19A) and playing time were down from last season. But one more important thing happened this season, he actually broke over into a negative possession player. His on ice Corsi for percentage was 48.3. Even more acute, his CF% relative was -7.8 percent. The Fenwick stats tell the same story (FF% 47.7, FF% rel -9.0). Long story short, Eakin was the ice for more bad things than good things. On this iteration of the Dallas Stars, being negative in possession was hard to do.
Furthermore, the relative stats say that his presence on the ice dragged down his teammates ability to possess the puck.
It's hard to argue with the supposition that Eakin was in over his head. That much seems clear. Then why did the coaching staff continue to play him between Benn and Sharp in the playoffs? I believe the answer is very simple.
When Tyler Seguin went down, it was right about the time that Radek Faksa began dominating with Antoine Roussel and Ales Hemsky. The only center position that was open was the first line. Lindy Ruff had a decision to make: did he move Radek Faksa up between Benn and Sharp and let Eakin anchor Roussel and Hemsky? Or would he leave Faksa where he was and let Eakin skate with the big boys?
There is little doubt that Faksa between Benn and Sharp would be been something of a wrecking crew. Faksa is a specimen. But the trouble for Lindy Ruff was that Eakin between Roussel and Hemsky might not have worked. He would then be stuck with a dominant first line and a leaky sieve of a checking line. Ruff played the numbers trusting that Benn and Sharp would be enough to keep first line dangerous (and positive in possession) with Eakin, and Faksa would continue to lead a good checking line.
Unfortunately there isn't an obvious place on the Stars roster for Eakin moving forward. Unless he moves to the wing or plays 9 minutes a night on the fourth line, where will he play next year? That is a different article of course, but it is hard not to wonder.
Overall you would have to describe Cody Eakin's 2015-16 campaign as rocky, to say the least. The 25-year old still has a lot to learn.
How would you grade Cody Eakin's 2015-16 season with the Dallas Stars? Vote below!