Cody Eakin enjoyed a career year for the Vegas Golden Knights in 2018-19, but unfortunately his season will best be remembered for its controversial and heartbreaking ending.
Cody Eakin: Grade A
Our 2018-19 Vegas Golden Knights Report Cards continue today as we turn the magnifying glass on Cody Eakin, who continued to provide depth and secondary scoring in abundance for the Knights.
One of many players to have enjoyed a renaissance fit for the silver screen in 2017-18, Cody Eakin bounced back from hockey obscurity with a vengeance after being taken by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2017-18 NHL Expansion Draft.
The gritty checking-line center posted 11 goals and 16 assists for 27 points in 2017-18, his highest points total since 2015-16.
Eakin was a reliable third-line center as the Golden Knights made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural year, but better things were to come for the NHL veteran.
Once again relied upon as a third-line pivot as the Knights entered 2018-19 with formidable depth at center, Eakin would go on to enjoy a career-year and continue to underline his importance to this team.
The 28-year-old, heading into his eighth season in the big leagues, provided style with substance and proved last year that not only can he be a hugely effective third-line checking pivot, but he can also put up solid offensive numbers.
Used on a line with high-end skilled players in Max Pacioretty and Alex Tuch for 19.2 percent of the season, Eakin’s play reaped the benefits of playing with a higher quality of line-mate.
That resulted in 22 goals and 19 assists for 41 points in 78 regular season games, while he also tallied four power play points which further underlines his ability to play in a number of key situations.
Eakin’s 22 goals (more than Reilly Smith’s 19) and 41 points were both career-highs, while he also achieved career-highs in goals created (17), points per game (.53), shooting percentage (18.3) and plus/minus (+19).
All in all, it was one hell of a surge in offensive production for a player more known for his prowess in the defensive zone.
And that’s the key ingredient when looking back at Eakin’s 2018-19 season because, not only was his offensive output superb and perhaps unexpected, but he was his solid best defensively too.
He was reliable in the faceoff circle with a win percentage of 51.0, he blocked 35 shots, dished out 88 hits and had 51 takeaways.
Eakin’s importance to this Golden Knights team can be underlined by just how much he was used throughout 2018-19.
Logging an average of 15:23 minutes of ice time a night, compared to 14:32 minutes per game the previous year, Eakin was used in key matchup situations, on the power play and on the penalty kill.
As such, Eakin’s role took on added importance during the postseason and his ice time jumped up significantly as a result.
Skating in all seven games against the San Jose Sharks, Eakin racked up on average 17:02 minutes of ice time per game, registering two goals for two points and a plus/minus rating of +7.
With seven blocks, 18 hits and six takeaways, Eakin was at his peak during the heat of the battle in the most important time of the year.
However, and unfairly so, Eakin’s career-year took an unexpected nosedive and soured in the most controversial fashion during a bonkers Game 7.
Competing for a faceoff in his own zone, Eakin was guilty of cross-checking the Sharks’ Joe Pavelski and was maybe expecting to be sent to the sin bin for two minutes.
However, the officials had other ideas and instead set in motion a crazy chain of events after giving Eakin a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct following Pavelski’s fall to the ice.
The rest as they say is history and we don’t need to rehash those painful memories again, but it was a bitter ending to what was a superb year for Cody Eakin and, although he shouldn’t take any blame for how the rest of that Game 7 unfolded, it will still go down as an unfortunate blemish on his copybook.