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Eakin eager to help Jets in playoff race

"This is the best time of year to play hockey." -Eakin

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

BUFFALO - A player gets a number of messages and phone calls after being traded, but Cody Eakin might have had more notifications than average.

That'll happen when you get traded to your hometown team.

"You get a lot of messages. I'll have some fans at the first game at home," said Eakin, born and raised in Winnipeg. "My family is excited. I haven't been back home in the winter since I was 15, so it should be fun."

Eakin will play his first game for the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday against the Buffalo Sabres, a full two days after being acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights late on Friday.

Video: PREGAME | Cody Eakin

"For him, he just wants that puck to drop," said head coach Paul Maurice. "There is a tremendous number of new faces, new video, big change for him over the last 24-48 hours."

Maurice will put the 28-year-old at his natural position, centre, between Jack Roslovic and Mason Appleton.

Eakin is looking forward to joining the squad he's seen a lot of over his NHL career. He's spent all but 30 of his 578 career games in the Western Conference, which includes five seasons with the Dallas Stars between 2012 and 2017. Eakin was selected in the expansion draft by the Vegas Golden Knights in June of 2017.

"It's a fast team," Eakin said of the Jets. "They start in net. It's strong, right up to the forwards. (They've) always been fast and always been able to score. A couple injuries now, but always tough games to play, a tough building to play in, and they play a consistent and strong game. It's going to be fun to be part of."

Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice

This season, Eakin has four goals and 10 points in 41 games. This comes after a career year in 2018-19, when he scored 22 times and finished with 41 points.

"It's been tough. Some ups and downs and some injuries. It was tough to find my groove after that," Eakin said, referring to the upper-body injury he sustained in late November that kept him out until January 7.

"This is the time of the season you want to be playing. I'm feeling good, ready to rock."

He joins a Jets team that heading into action on Sunday, held the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference with 19 games to go on the schedule.

"This is the best time of year to play hockey and to be right in the fight is something I love to do," said Eakin. "It makes it easy to get up for games. It's going to be a lot of fun. There are going to be some good battles and every point is going to matter from here on out."

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