Eakin Extension Further Solidifies Stars’ Future At Center

Sometimes the rich just get richer.

Already boasting one of the league’s top 1-2 punches at center with Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza, the Dallas Stars supplemented their depth at the position on Friday by extending young pivot Cody Eakin to a four-year, $15.3 million dollar extension.

The native of Winnipeg, Manitoba is coming off of a career year, setting new personal bests for goals (19) and points (40) while spending the majority of his time as the team’s third line center. Before the signing Eakin, 24, was set to enter the final season of a two-year, $3.8 million dollar deal, but his new contract puts him in Dallas until the end of 2019-2020.

At an annual average value of $3.85 million, the Stars are getting excellent value for a player that has become something of a Swiss Army Knife for the team. Eakin has slotted in almost everywhere in the Stars’ forward group, playing on both on the top line and in shutdown roles, as well as on the powerplay and the penalty kill. On top of his 40 points he also posted respectable possession numbers in spite of heavy defensive zone starts.

While this extension doesn’t change anything for Dallas in the short term, as Eakin was already under contract for the upcoming season, the move is a huge boon for the organization in the long term.

Both Seguin and Spezza are under contract until 2019, with the former making $5.75 million per season on a deal that he originally signed with the Boston Bruins in September of 2012 and the latter earning $7.5 million annually after extending with Dallas this past November. By also locking up Eakin for so long the Stars now have an enviable amount of roster security at such an important position, with their three top centers signed well into the future.

In terms of cap space, Eakin’s doubled salary will make things a little trickier for the Stars once it kicks in next summer, but with four forwards – Patrick Eaves, Vernon Fiddler, Travis Moen and Colton Sceviour – set to become unrestricted free agents at the same time the team should have a multitude of options available to help stay within the confines of the cap. What’s more, if Eakin continues along his current development path and works his way up to becoming a reliable two-way 2nd line center by the final year of his deal (which expires one year after Spezza’s does, which is probably not a coincidence) then an AAV of $3.85 million for that kind of player could wind up being an outright cap steal by that time.

While the Stars have done an admirable job this summer making moves to help them become a playoff contender next season, moves like this one and the John Klingberg extension from back in April also show that the team is also serious about becoming one of the NHL’s top teams for a long, long time.