The Vegas Golden Knights are gearing up for their first NHL season, and following a successful expansion draft, many questions lie ahead.
First, though the Golden Knights have a plethora of new and experienced NHLers ready to make an impact from the get-go, it’s uncertain if this roster is enough to crack the playoffs. They will certainly benefit from having proven scorers like James Neal on the roster, and though they have depth in all areas of the roster, especially on defense, there are concerns.
First off, the Pacific Division is becoming even more competitive. With the Edmonton Oilers emerging as a top competitor with their star-studded and fast, young roster, the Calgary Flames have also made major upgrades this offseason, and the Anaheim Ducks are also ready to rebound after a deep playoff run. Vegas will have to adapt to this fast, hard-hitting and fierce division, and it will certainly take time. Especially with many of their players coming over from the Eastern Conference.
Still, the Golden Knights have not only a number of big-name players, but a lot of promising up-and-comers who are ready to compete. Here are five Golden Knights to know and definitely watch heading into the 2017-18 campaign.
5. Cody Eakin
When he was still with the Washington Capitals, Vegas General Manager George McPhee drafted Eakin in the third round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Now, McPhee is relying on Eakin to bring the same skill and potential he saw years ago to the Golden Knights roster.
For the past few seasons, Eakin has been serving the Dallas Stars as a solid bottom-six center, and previously put up consistent 30-40 point seasons. However, this past season, he experienced a significant drop in production due to an injury, registering just three goals and 12 points through 60 games.
Coming into this season, Eakin will look to not only rebound but compete for a spot on the top-six. A versatile forward, the 26-year-old can win faceoffs and serve as a solid two-way forward.
Though Eakin is leaner at 6-feet and 160 pounds, he isn’t afraid to throw his weight around and is aggressive and gritty on the ice. In addition, he plays a solid game on the backcheck, as he takes good care of the puck and avoids giveaways. Overall, with his ability, Eakin plays well at both ends of the rink and can serve as an asset on special teams.
Vegas will be looking for Eakins to not only improve his point totals but to get back on track with his skill-set. He must get pucks on goal and improve his accuracy, and he needs to add more of an offensive edge to his game. If he does that, he will end up being one of the most utilized forwards on the Golden Knights roster.