On any other day, Cody Eakin might be a little more cheerful, but, with his Kootenay Ice team down 0-2 in the MasterCard Memorial Cup, the Washington Capitals prospect is all business.
“When he’s playing his best, he’s actually goofing around,” says his junior coach Kris Knoblauch. No holding back, Cody Eakin may have been the best player on the ice for either team in his first two games and scored his team’s lone goal, a vicious snipe on the powerplay.
There was Eakin, just minutes before, answering the call to do his game day interviews with the local broadcasters, all-business, and the slight red outline of a mustache on his newly turned-20-year-old face. He knows it’s all business. He knows that “it’s never over until it’s over,” as he was part of the Canadian team that squandered a three-goal third period lead to the Russian team at the World Junior Championships in Buffalo.
“We still have a handful of things we need to accomplish here,” says Eakin, who has already done a lot with his career. He was called up to Hershey last spring and played a few games with the Capitals AHL affiliate after his then-Swift Current Broncos were swept out of the playoffs. He scored a goal (and won a Calder Cup to boot) and came back to his Bronco team after missing the cut at Capitals camp last September.
He was then traded to Kootenay for eight players and picks in January after falling short at the World Juniors and 18 goals in 30 games with the Broncos. He has since kept alive his wicked scoring pace, 18 goals in 26 games through the regular season with Kootenay. In the WHL playoffs he scored 11 in 19.
“He contributed right away,” said Knoblauch. “He is scoring those goals, but he’s not scoring those goals by cheating on offense and becoming a defensive liability.”
Eakin is a rare Canadian top prospect for the Capitals part of a wave of youth along with Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitri Orlov and Stanislav Galiev. He is described by Hockey’s Future as “a solid two-way player that is very useful as a penalty killer” which could be his greatest asset in breaking into the NHL. In a tournament game against Mississauga, Eakin scored a goal, but was also a big factor in keeping his opponents 0-for-6 on the powerplay. He’s part of a Capitals team that has been looking for that game day edge that Eakin brings. He’s listed at 6’0″ and 189 lbs, so there’s some bulking up to do if he is to break into the NHL as a third line player.
For now, there’s little getting out of Eakin. He’s soft-spoken off the ice, but a veritable showman on it, a hard worker and a key part of the Kootenay team that was able to win the WHL Championship.