Capitals Farm Report: Growing Up Cody

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(Photo by Marc Henwood, courtesy Station Nation)

Oh noes! The Acadie-Bathurst Titan D has just discovered that they are all jammed up on the wrong side of the net, and that Stanislav Galiev has the puck on his stick...

Cody Eakin, Swift Current Broncos (WHL)

Capitals Farm Report is pleased to introduce a special guest correspondent this week. Jon Keen has been the radio voice of the Swift Current Broncos for the past seven seasons.  He will be updating his bio soon, as he just announced he is leaving Swift Current and moving to BC to do play by play for the Kamloops Blazers.  

Jon has watched Capitals prospect Cody Eakin grow from a wide-eyed squeaky-voiced 15-year-old bantam draftee into a confident 19-year-old captain with a pro championship already in his trophy case and Team Canada plus a legit shot at the Show on the horizon.  He has graciously agreed to share some of his observations with Japers' Rink and CapsNation. 

Thanks and best wishes, Jon!

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Growing Up Cody

by Jon Keen

 

I didn't know much about the kid.

It was the summer of 2006, and the Swift Current Broncos had just taken a Winnipeg, MB born forward with the 6th overall pick in the WHL Bantam Draft.

In fact, all I really knew about him was that at the AHL's Skills Challenge in Winnipeg earlier in the year he was one of a handful of local bantam players invited to take part.  I also heard the diminutive 14-year-old  blew away his bantam counterparts in the fastest skater event and even posted quicker times than some of the AHL'ers.  So the kid could skate. That, I knew.

The team invited their drafted prospects to the city for a summer orientation.  The Broncos Director of Player Personnel Jaime Porter introduced us outside the Broncos dressing room.  He was your typical 15-year-old. Small, but with fire-red hair.  As I asked questions he responded in a typical teenager squeaky voice.  Could this kid be the next big thing to come through this organization?  I had my doubts to be honest.

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Training camp was just a few months later.   As a 15-year-old he began to establish himself as a player with potential. He began to shake the "kid" moniker.  He competed hard, skated well and at 15 didn't lose too many face-offs either.

He continued to rack up the points in camp.  His play eventually got him to the final stage: The Bronco Black/White intrasquad game. It would be considered a prestigious honour to play in this game as a 15-year-old.  

One of the perks of being "the radio guy" was a chance to coach one of the teams in the annual game.  I was fortunate. Cody played for my side that night. He played well. He worked the powerplay, showed his penalty-killing strengths and his goal in the third period gave our Team White a 5-4 lead to the final few seconds.  

Team Black called a time out.  They had a face-off deep in our zone with seven seconds to play.  They had one last shot with their goalie pulled to tie this up.  We needed to win the face-off to salt this one away.  The other three centers on our team were established veterans. Battle hardened.   Who should take the face-off?

"Hey kid...you're up," I quipped in his direction in a nervous, out-of-my-element tone.  

Somewhat surprised, he jumped over the boards and raced to the face-off circle as we tried to get in the late change.  

Then, with a quick swipe of his shortened stick, that was it. Clean as a whistle, he won that draw against one of our top veterans on the other side.  The puck went into the corner...3-2-1, game over.  He's been a go-to guy ever since.

It's been a bit of a roller coaster for the player his teammates call "Squeaks."  A severe concussion early in his 16-year-old season kept him out of the World U-17 Challenge.  I remember seeing his tears flow in Seattle outside the bus when he was informed he wasn't physically able to play. Due to the concussion.  Then came the early morning phone call from Hockey Canada brass in Regina back in December 2009. The call that notified him he was the final cut of Canada's World Junior team as they attempted to capture their sixth straight World Junior title on home soil.

A lot has changed in the months since that call.

Just yesterday, after one of the training camp scrimmages, Cody and I sat on the bench. Outside the dressing room door, just like we did four years ago.

From the guy who showed up as the small Winnipegger with the squeaky voice in the summer of 2006 to one of the most complete players to come through these parts in a number of years.

Here's the "kid", now with the hockey world in his hands.  A sure-fire World Junior player for Team Canada in a few months, an AHL Championship with the Hershey Bears and a top-end NHL prospect in the years to come.  

He's a good one folks.

He's ready.

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Евгений Кузнецов and Дмитрий Орлов, Team Russia U-20s (FHR)

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Team Russia head coach Valery Bragin has made his final cuts and announced that Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitri Orlov are indeed named to the Russian national youth team. The team trained at Moscow Dynamo's rink this week and are now on their way to Nykoping, Sweden for a four-nation friendly with Sweden, Finland, and the Czech Republic, taking place September 3-5.  Team Russia will meet Team Suomi for their first match on Friday. 

They won't have much time back with their KHL teams, however, as Team Russia is then scheduled to travel to Canada in November to compete in the Subway Super Series. The sites for the Super Series were announced on Wednesday, and it looks like Dima and Zhenya will get to meet up with their DevCamp bestie Stas Galiev, because their first stop will be Harbour Station, NB, home of the St. John Sea Dogs. Popped collars and Ed Hardy all 'round! 
And who knows, perhaps Galiev will get a look for the team while they are there.


Garrett Mitchell, Regina Pats (WHL)

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Here's soon-to-be Captain Mitchell reppin' the Pats on July 31 at Regina's annual Queen City Ex Parade.

Work it like you work it, G.

(Photo courtesy Regina Pats)

 

Brett Flemming, Mississauga St. Michael's Majors (OHL)

 

It's difficult to get a read on Flemming and St. Mike's right now.  The team is hosting the Memorial Cup tournament this year, and they appear to be determined to make a concerted run for it, and have spent the past week trading players and draft picks like they're going out of style.  When the dust settles, they should have a very competitive team. 

In the meantime, here's an intriguing look at a possible breakout season for Brett:

9. Brett Flemming - Mississauga St. Michael's Majors
Interestingly enough, Flemming (a Capitals draft pick) saw his offensive numbers dip last season. Make no mistake though, Flemming has offensive talent and can be an effective puck rusher. His decrease in production can probably be correlated to two things; 1) bouncing around roles as Flemming actually played some forward last year and saw decreased powerplay time; and 2) an increased dedication to the defensive side of the ice, where Flemming excelled and was named as one of the top defensive defenseman in the OHL coaches poll. This year, the Majors' top two offensive defenseman will be gone; Cameron Gaunce and Blake Parlett. The 2010/11 season could be the year Flemming has the confidence to unleash himself offensively, while still playing top notch defense. With a Memorial Cup season hanging in the balance, the Majors are going to need him to.

 

That wraps it up for this week's Farm Report.  Thanks again to Jon Keen!

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