The NHL free agency period opened with a furious frenzy yesterday, with multiple teams adding multiple players quickly. The Dallas Stars were no exception as they had acquired Jason Spezza via trade, and then signed free agents Ales Hemsky and Anders Lindback all by lunch time, prior to adding Patrick Eaves later in the day.
The moves made by GM Jim Nill benefit multiple players on the Stars roster. Captain Jamie Benn and linemate Tyler Seguin will benefit from having some secondary scoring help in Spezza and Hemsky. Spezza will benefit from not having the intense media scrutiny found in the Canadian markets. But perhaps the Star that will benefit the most is center Cody Eakin.
Prior to the new additions in Dallas, Eakin was being pegged as the potential No. 2 center for the Stars. While he is certainly capable of being a bottom-tier second-line center, his game is much more suited for a third-line role. In 81 games for Dallas last season, Eakin showed offensive flashes (19 goals, 35 points) but lacked the scoring consistency that is expected of a second-line swingman.
Even with the offensive struggles, Eakin, along with linemates Ryan Garbutt and Antoine Roussel, carved a niche for themselves as a combination capable of getting under the skin of the opposition’s top players and keep them in check.
At only 23 years old, going into his fourth NHL season, Eakin will continue to improve and find that scoring consistency. In a Western Conference that features multiple teams with two quality centers, asking Eakin to produce as many points as players like Ryan Kesler, Ryan O’Reilly, Logan Couture and Jeff Carter is a bit much.
Now without the pressure that comes along with being expected to help carry the offense, Eakin will be able to play in a role that is much better suited to his current skillset. While the new additions will certainly be the focal point of the media in the days to follow, perhaps Eakin could be the player who benefits most from their presence.