Winnipeg Jets Shore Up Forward Depth With Cody Eakin

Winnipeg-born centre Cody Eakin acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick —

GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and the Winnipeg Jets made their second trade of the week on Friday when they acquired Cody Eakin from the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for a 2021 conditional fourth-round pick.  The fourth-round pick will become a third-round pick in 2021 if the Jets make the playoffs this year or re-sign Cody Eakin to a new contract.  Eakin is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 as his four-year deal worth 3.85 million annually comes to an end.

The 28-year-old Eakin had four goals and ten points in 41 games for the Golden Knights this season.  He’s played in 46 career playoff games, including 27 in the past two seasons with Vegas.  Last season, the six-foot, 183-pound hometown product of Winnipeg scored 22 times while adding 19 assists in 78 games.  His 22 goals would’ve been fourth on the Jets last season, behind only Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine.

Eakin was originally selected in the third round, 85th overall in 2009 by the Washington Capitals.  Eakin enjoyed a four-year career in the Western Hockey League from 2007-2011.  He split his time between the Swift Current Broncos and the Kootenay Ice.  He won a WHL championship with the Ice in 2011 and participated in the Memorial Cup. His 47 goals in 2010 were tied for third league-wide.

After one season split between Washington and the AHL’s Hershey Bears, Eakin was sent to the Dallas Stars as part of a package for Mike Ribeiro.  He spent the next five seasons in Dallas before being selected by Vegas in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft.  Eakin reached the Stanley Cup Finals in his first season with Vegas, losing to his former team the Washington Capitals in five games.

To make room for Eakin, the Jets sent forward Andrei Chibisov to the Manitoba Moose.

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Analysis:

There’s some good and some not-so-good when it comes to this trade.  Let’s start with the good:

The Jets add some speed and playoff experience to the lineup for a very reasonable price.  If the Jets make the playoffs, they’re only giving up a third-round pick from over a year away. Chevy will have lots of time to try to get a pick in that round back.  Eakin, although he has struggled this year, should be a needed addition to the Jets.  That fourth line is AHL quality right now.  At least Eakin is still serviceable.  He brings speed, goes to the dirty areas, wins face-offs and can kill penalties. He’ll push someone like Logan Shaw, Nick Shore or Gabriel Bourque out of the lineup.

The not-so-good:

While the pick they gave up wasn’t much, Vegas was desperate to get some cap relief.  After being spend-happy for the majority of their three-year existence, the Golden Knights found themselves right up near the cap.  Chevy likely could’ve squeezed a pick out of Vegas for taking on Eakin’s contract.  Instead, Vegas got a pick for what had to be a negative asset for them.

As I mentioned, Eakin should push a guy like Shaw, Shore or Bourque out of the lineup, but there’s a good chance the 2015 line could be broken up and one of Jansen Harkins or Mason Appleton gets scratched in favour of Eakin.

Eakin’s contract is also a bit funny.  The Jets can’t afford to extend him at his current rate.  He was in-line for a raise after last season but his play has fallen off significantly.  It’s hard to know what he might be worth.  A lot of it will depend on how he plays here.  If he plays well and signs a reasonable, short-term contract, then he can stay.  But the Jets can’t afford to lockup a soon-to-be 30-year-old long term and at a high cap, so there’s a good chance he’ll walk in free agency.

Where he slots in:

There are a few different spots for Eakin on the Jets roster.  Personally, I’d like to see him as the fourth-line centre.  He can push Nick Shore over to the wing and the Jets can scratch either Logan Shaw or Gabriel Bourque, both who have pretty much been black holes offensively this season.  Eakin has ten points this year.  The Jets current fourth line has a combined 11.  So Eakin can hopefully provide some secondary scoring.

I can also see Eakin making an appearance as the 2C.  Perhaps Wheeler and Scheifele get reunited and the 2015 line stays on the third line.  With Bryan Little out for the rest of the year, that leaves the second-line centre spot fairly open.  It might go to a guy like Andrew Copp, or it could go to Eakin.  If Eakin finds his game, he’s essentially Copp with a bit more offence.

This trade tells me Adam Lowry or Mathieu Perreault may be out longer than expected, so it is good to add more veteran depth.  If Lowry comes back this season, then Eakin could be tried on his wing.  Copp could rejoin Lowry, and Eakin could slide into Brandon Tanev’s old spot.  This would give the Jets a defensively-strong energy line with a bit of an offensive punch.

Bottom Line:

This is a hockey trade that makes sense for both teams.  Vegas gets some much-needed cap relief and the Jets get a veteran centre who skates fast, hustles and can kill penalties.  While I would’ve liked to have gotten a pick out of Vegas for bailing them out of their cap issues, it’s not the end of the world.  Eakin isn’t a total dump, he can still play effective hockey for us.

 

What did you think of the Cody Eakin pickup?  You can let me know in the comments, or Tweet me, @WHTRiley.  I would love to talk hockey with you.

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