Friday, April 2, 2010

Focus on Prospects: Cody Eakin

photo by Getty Images
Name: Cody Eakin
Position: C
Shoots: Left
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 179 lbs
Birthdate: 1991-05-25
Hometown: Winnipeg, Manitoba

Cody Eakin is pretty much your typical Canadian hockey-playing kid.  Playing up through the ranks in Canada, he was drafted in the first round out of bantam ranks by the WHL's Swift Current Broncos in 2006.  His first season of 2007-08, he scored 11 goals and had 6 assists, and then really shone in the playoffs of that year, when he had 7 points in just 12 games.  In his next season, he exploded into the WHL star ranks - 24 goals, 24 assists, and was named the Broncos Rookie of the Year.  The same season, he was selected to play in the CHL Top Prospects Game, and scored 2 goals for Team Orr, earning him the Player of the Game award.  He went on to play in the IIHF U18 tournament for Team Canada, where his team earned the gold medal.
This season, the Broncos were 3rd place in Eastern Conference at the end of the regular season, but were knocked out in the 1st round of the playoffs by the Brandon Wheat Kings.  During the season, Eakin was #7 on the list of top scorers in the WHL with an astounding 47 goals and 44 assists.  As a reward, Cody was named to the All-WHL Eastern Conference second team this season.

The main thing that coaches and scouts point out about Cody Eakin is his speed.  He's not terribly big, but what he lacks in height and weight he makes up for in his skating ability.  He's good on the forecheck and effective on the PK, and definitely isn't a selfish player - he sees the ice and his teammates extremely well.  Eakin has said he models his skating after Ottawa's Mike Fisher.  That's a fair assessment, being that Eakin is skilled as a two-way forward, much as Fisher is.  However, Eakin does say that his favorite player is Ovechkin due to his passion for the game - a passion that scouts have seen in Eakin.

His idolization of Ovechkin meant that he was a thrilled little quote machine after being drafted by the Capitals in 2009 in the 3rd round (85th overall).  He told reporters that he'd recently become a Capitals fan, largely for the exciting play of Ovechkin, Semin, and Backstrom.  He said after the draft:
"I'm looking forward to getting there and see the guys. I'm probably going to be a little shell shocked because of those amazing players. I watch the Capitals all the time...It is a good young team and I am excited to go down there."  
He had no idea who would select him getting down the 3rd round, but was excited when the Capitals called his name.  He said, "I wasn't really sure who or where I was going to go. But I am happy and I couldn't ask for a better team."

Signed to an entry-level contract in October 2009, Eakin knew that he was eligible to play with the Hershey Bears once his Swift Current season was over.  But he didn't even really expect to go that far this year.  In a January interview with Japers' Rink, he was asked about how he felt about possibly playing with the Bears this spring.  Eakin responded with:
"Oh, that would be exciting!  ...If I get a phone call and be asked to come up, whether it's to watch or to practice or what have you, it would be an exciting time for me, and I think definitely would be an eye opener for me."
Eakin was called up to the Hershey Bears on March 25, and his first game was in Syracuse against the Crunch on March 31, wearing #34.  He scored his first AHL goal - on his first shot.  He finished the night with a +2.  Eakin's new coach Mark French said that he intends on keeping Eakin in the lineup for a little while, indicating that the organization wanted to take a good look at him.  It seems to be the beginning of a very exciting career for the 18-year-old Eakin.  From the interview with Japers' Rink, he shows that he's very smart about the game and should go far:
I think if you get called up to any team, you gotta play a simple, smart game.  You gotta be reliable player.  You wouldn't expect to go up there and log big minutes.  But the minutes that you are out there -- you gotta take advantage and show that you're smart, reliable, and you can be put on the ice and you don't have to be worried about.

Here is a link to the highlights from Eakin's first AHL game.  Be sure to check out his impeccable positioning on his goal.  The goal comes right off the face-off around the 0:29 mark (thanks Kathryn).

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