This afternoon, Darren Dreger of TSN was the first to report that the Buffalo Sabres had reached a two-year agreement with unrestricted free-agent forward, Cody Eakin. The deal will carry a cap hit of $2.25 million.
In 2018-19, Eakin posted a career-high 41 points in 78 games. Last season, he saw a dramatic reduction in his base scoring totals, registering only 15 points in 49 contests. While the 29-year-old has been a hot-and-cold half-point-per-game player for a good chunk of his career, his underlying metrics have been less impressive.
In four of his last five seasons at the NHL level, he has posted a below-replacement-level xGAR rate, and he ranked dead-last on the Vegas Golden Knights with an xGF rate of 49.15-percent last season. Things didn’t get much better in his eight-game stint with the Winnipeg Jets after joining them at the trade deadline (xGF rate of 40.76-percent in a small sample).
In a Buffalo bottom-six that was heavily relied-upon to provide sound defensive play last season, Eakin’s inclusion certainly won’t help mend the loss of Johan Larsson’s impacts in that area. Only once in his career has he posted a positive shot-share ratio, and his defensive xGA rates are regularly pedestrian (to put it gently).
To his credit, Eakin has historically served relatively well on the penalty-kill, despite his very poor defensive metrics at five-on-five. Still, for a Sabres front office that has verbally emphasized their desire to apply analytics to their decision making process, this one is a head-scratcher.
We’ll have to wait and see how he’s used in Ralph Krueger’s system, but this looks like to be strictly a depth signing in what will be a new-look bottom-six.