ARLINGTON, Va. -- Cody Eakin nearly made the Washington Capitals’ opening-night roster at the start of last season, so the fact that it took him 10 games with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League in his first professional season to earn his first NHL promotion should not be much of a surprise.
Eakin was recalled this morning by the Capitals and is scheduled to make his NHL debut against the Anaheim Ducks tonight at Verizon Center (7:30 p.m. ET, Versus, TSN2).
“I’m pretty happy. Obviously it is pretty exciting,” Eakin said. “It was pretty exciting. It wasn’t a call I was expecting to get or anything. I was actually hanging out at a movie theater when I got the call. It is always a nice call to get, and I am looking forward to it.”
Eakin was a 2009 third-round pick, and actually helped the Bears win the Calder Cup in 2010 despite being a junior-age player (he was allowed to play for them after his junior season ended). Last season began with him having a great training camp with the Capitals, a solid effort for Canada at the World Junior Championships and another dominant season in the Western Hockey League.
He did not make the NHL to start this season, but 3 goals and 8 points in 10 AHL games was enough to earn him a call-up -- even though the Capitals do not need him right now.
“Every report we’ve gotten is that he’s played really, really well down in Hershey,” Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He’s a guy that we’ve really wanted to take a look at. Hershey only has one game this week, so this was a good opportunity to take a look at him.”
Eakin is Washington’s second-best forward prospect after Russian starlet Evgeny Kuznetsov, and after scoring 95 goals in the past two seasons in the WHL (including the postseason), he is someone who has enough offensive talent to play as top-six forward someday.
For now, he’ll likely skate on the fourth line, although that trio is expected to include Mike Knuble against the Ducks.
"(They said) the next little while depends on me," Eakin said of the message when he was sent to Hershey. "They said I could be in Hershey for a while, or I could be there for a short time. I’ve just tried to work hard and get the systems right and get comfortable with the game. I am lucky to have this opportunity -- this early especially."