It’s only fitting that I follow up Bryan Little’s player review with his attempted replacement in Cody Eakin, acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights. As a general rule of thumb, if the Knights are jettisoning a guy who posted 41 points for them last season, it’s probably for a good reason. Eakin took a step back this year and really failed to find favor with any of Vegas’ rotating coaching staffs. Was he able to recover any form as a middle to top-6 C, or did he prove to be a poor trade acquisition?
The long and short answer is this: Cody Eakin was not good. In fact, he was pretty bad. You can peek at his 5v5 underlying metrics above, but even the eye-test didn’t reveal an NHL-calibre centre. Eakin was consistently late to offensive zone positions where he needed to be to support his wingers. He was more often caught chasing puck-carriers than owning the puck himself. While Eakin was technically an inexpensive addition, Winnipeg definitely lost the trade. He just didn’t provide any sort of NHL utility beyond being a warm body to eat up ice-time. Eakin’s slower speed and general mediocre offensive awareness didn’t provide much support for Ehlers or Laine.
Going forward, Winnipeg should plan to move on from Cody. I know the team is desperate for centre depth, but turning to Eakin would be a mistake. His on-ice performance was barely there and his second-line deployments were enough to put the fear of the almighty in almost anyone. He’s not the worst forward the Jets have ever dressed, but he’s not far from that pool either. Hopefully, Winnipeg can materialize a genuine top-6 centre soon before they go rummaging around the garbage bin for another below-replacement level player.