Eakin brings speed and grit

Wheeler a big fan of Jets’ latest acquisition


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PHILADELPHIA -- Cody Eakin should inject some belligerence into the Winnipeg Jets roster and also gives Paul Maurice and his coaching staff some options.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/02/2020 (1007 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

PHILADELPHIA — Cody Eakin should inject some belligerence into the Winnipeg Jets roster and also gives Paul Maurice and his coaching staff some options.

The 28-year-old forward, a born-and-raised Winnipegger, was acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday afternoon for a draft pick.

He’ll join the Jets in Buffalo and will suit up — wearing jersey No,. 20 — against the Sabres this afternoon. Game time is 2 p.m. CT. He’s expected to centre on either the second or third lines.

JEFF CHIU / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES Former Golden Knights centre Cody Eakin notched 22 goals and 41 points last season.

To say team captain Blake Wheeler likes the move would be a huge understatement.

“I was fired up. Our group’s battled extremely hard this year to stay in the fight and I think we’re being rewarded for that,” Wheeler said. “(Eakin) is a guy I think we’ve had our eye on for a while, not just because he’s a Manitoba kid. He’s a great player. I remember talking to Paul a couple of summers ago about him after a summer skate, that he would fit our team perfectly. We’re excited to have him.”

Maurice said he’s long been an admirer of the pesky, versatile 6-0, 185-pound veteran and expects him to be an impactful player as Winnipeg battles for a playoff spot.

“(He’s) a centre iceman, for one. We had a run of injuries at centre that has been a real challenge for us to manage. A veteran player and, most importantly, it’s the grit of a player that likes to get into the corners, makes plays. His defensive reads are really, really good,” said Maurice, prior to Winnipeg’s matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.

“We wanted a player that can make his regular-season game wired to get ready for the playoffs. He knows we’re playing important games right now, and that’s the way he’s built to play. He’s at his best in that big game, energy, edge kind of game. He’s coming into it here in Winnipeg and he’ll be able to help us along in that line.”

The Jets could be without injured centre Adam Lowry (upper body) for another week or two.

Eakin has spent the bulk of the season centring the third line in Sin City, with a mix of wingers such as Alex Tuch, William Carrier, Tomas Nosek, Nicholas Roy and another Winnipeg product, Cody Glass. But he’s also patrolled the wing during his nine-year NHL caeer.

He has four goals, six assists and 16 penalty minutes in 41 games this season — he was sidelined five weeks with an upper-body injury. But he registered career highs in goals (22) and points (41) just a year ago.

“He can make plays, he can shoot the puck. I think the big thing is a little veteran grit in our lineup. We’re still a very young team and veteran grit on the defensive side of the puck will hold other players — I don’t know if accountable’s the right word — but teach them on the ice that that’s the game needs to be played,” added Maurice.

Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff sent a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2021 draft to Vegas for the pending unrestricted free agent, who has split the bulk of his time between the Dallas Stars and Vegas. Should the Jets qualify for the postseason this spring or sign Eakin to a new contract on, or before, July 5, 2020 then the Jets will instead transfer their 2021 third-round pick to the Golden Knights.

Listed at 6-0, 185 pounds, Eakin has gained a reputation as a hard forechecker, unafraid to fight for pucks in traffic. But he rarely crosses the line — he’s never eclipsed 50 penalty minutes in a season and has just three NHL fights on his resume.

“He’s fast, he’s on the puck all the time and he doesn’t shy away from those tough areas. He’s a guy that brings it every single night. I think he’s shown he can be productive in the league offensively as well, a guy that has danced around the 20-goal mark on numerous occasions,” offered Wheeler. “You bring that kind of energy and that kind of physicality to your team, and can bring it offensively that’s a great piece to have.”



Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

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