On Sunday, the Vegas Golden Knights play their first National Hockey League preseason game, in Vancouver against the Canucks, while their first home preseason game is September 26 against the Los Angeles Kings at T-Mobile Arena. Soon, the NHL regular season will start, and the Las Vegas Strip will be swarming with hockey fans from all over North America.
Last week, we covered the roster in broad strokes—forwards, defensemen and goaltenders—and we're breaking down each position now individually so fans can meet the Golden Knights in more detail. Projected team captain and left wing James Neal was our first player profile, and today we're looking at center Cody Eakin.
The 26-year old from Manitoba was drafted originally in 2009 by the Washington Capitals when current Vegas General Manager George McPhee worked for that organization. Hence, it's a reunion of sorts for the two, and the Golden Knights have high hopes for Eakin after he spent the last five seasons playing for the Dallas Stars—the first regular-season opponent for Vegas this fall on October 6.
Eakin is a two-way player who looks to anchor the second line for the Golden Knights. He had a bit of an off year last season, but in his prior four seasons in Dallas (2012-2016), the young center averaged 0.46 points per game while also delivering 321 hits, blocking 193 shots and stealing the puck 194 times in 289 regular-season games.
That kind of presence on the ice for a young player gives Vegas a strong second line.
"I love Cody Eakin," said Dallas GM Jim Nill when his team lost Eakin in the expansion draft. "I love what he brought to our team. He's been a great Dallas Star. But in the end, he's the player I thought they would probably take. They made a good pick taking him. He's a good player."
Eakin also had been relatively healthy and strong for his first four full seasons in the league with Dallas, missing just five games total in those four years. But an early-season knee injury got his 2016-17 season off on the wrong skate, and eventually that and other issues cost him 22 games last year. It definitely impacted his effectiveness on the ice.
Because the Vegas GM goes way back with Eakin, though, the Golden Knights are confident they snagged a very underrated player. In the end, the hometown fans are going to love Eakin's grit and commitment to playing defense. Those are the kinds of players that earn the eternal gratitude and loyalty from those of us in the stands.
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