From Alzner to Wideman, we're taking a look at and grading (please read the criteria below) the 2011-12 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Caps for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2012-13. Next up,.
#50 / Forward / Washington Capitals
May 24, 1991
Part of 1
$637,778 cap hit through 2013-14; RFA summer 2014
Previous Rink Wraps: N/A
Interesting Stat: Eakin's per game average of 9:17 of ice time was the lowest of any non-enforcer Cap who played 20 games in a season since 2005-06 when Nolan Yonkman, Jakub Klepis and Rico Fata all averaged less.
The Good: Eakin was recalled from Hershey on November 1 and suited up for his first game in the NHL at home against the Ducks (though his debut was somehow overshadowed on that night). In his second game, just three nights later, Eakin notched his first NHL goal and assist in Carolina in a remarkably efficient 8:45 of ice time, and got honored by the captain for his efforts. He'd add another goal and a pair of assists over his next seven games (in ice time that ranged from a mere 5:11 to a season-high14:23) and another couple of goals and a helper the rest of the way.
Unsurprisingly, Eakin's scoring rates were pretty good - at five-on-five he was fifth on the team in goals-per-sixty-minutes (behind Mathieu Perreault, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin) and sixth in points-per-sixty (behind Keith Aucoin, Perreault, Semin, Backstrom and Marcus Johansson). His Corsi rating was also relatively good (thanks in part to facing weak competition and favorable zone starts), and his on-ice goal differential was sixth-best on the team (though that in part owes to a very high PDO).
It's also worth noting that no rookie in the AHL played fewer games and had more points than Eakin, and his .63 points-per-game was higher than all but 21 of the 52 freshmen that outscored him on that circuit.
The Bad: Eakin was on a yo-yo all year, officially recalled from Hershey seven different times during the season and getting little more than spot duty even when he did play (he topped ten minutes in ice time just three times in 15 games after December 5). That, of course, isn't necessarily so much Eakin's "bad" as management's, perhaps, but it was the overarching theme of his rookie campaign.
While the samples are small, Eakin seemed to struggle with the coaching change, not only in terms of minutes, but in terms of performance as well. After two goals and three assists in 11 games under Bruce Boudreau, Eakin managed just two goals and a single helper under Dale Hunter. But even more stark than that difference in production were Eakin's possession numbers - his score-tied Fenwick percentage dropped from 53.8% to just 41.4% after the switch (worst on the team among everyone not named Tomas Kundratek). And while the entire team's possession numbers fell off a cliff after the change, Eakin's numbers did so even more dramatically, and only a .943 save percentage behind him spared him some very ugly numbers.
Eakin suffered through 11-game goal-less and 17-game assist-less droughts and fired just 19 shots on goal in his final 21 games of the season. He was scratched for the final four games of the regular season before being assigned to Hershey (where he registered just one point in five playoff games) and eventually recalled as a Black Ace after the Bears were eliminated, but Eakin's hockey season was done as far as games went.
The Vote: Rate Eakin below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
The Discussion: Do you see Eakin as an NHL regular in 2012-13? What aspects of his game need the most improvement and what looks good so far? What's his ceiling at this point? What isrole on a team with Stanley Cup aspirations? Finally, what will it take for him to earn a 10 rating next year?