At the start of Capitals development camp, Bruce Boudreau mentioned Cody Eakin as a possible fit in the third-line center role. Those words set the expectations high, and so Eakin’s somewhat invisible scrimmage Saturday made the 20-year-old a hot topic of conversation.
There’s no reason why Eakin couldn’t still do it, but when camp was over he expressed disappointment in himself, particularly for not being physically ready.
“I’m not in the best shape,” Eakin admitted. “There’s no excuse for it, but I had a good exit meeting [with the coaches] to discuss what I need to do.”
Eakin, who at 5-foot-11 was pushed around by the bigger, stronger, Mattias Sjogren, was glad he “progressed” during the camp. Asked earlier in the week what part of his game he had to improve on, Eakin pointed only to improving his strength and conditioning.
Boudreau didn’t have the same negative reaction to Eakin’s performance, reminding reporters that the prospect just got finished with his junior hockey season five weeks prior.
“I’m not disappointed at all in Cody. I know he’s gonna come it and give it his best,” Boudreau said. “I’m not making an excuse for him because he didn’t have a bad camp at all. But at the same time maybe the expectations from everybody else around him are so great that they think he’s gonna come and tear it up.”
September and rookie camp/main training camp become the focus now.
“Eakin, it’s his third time here and it’s about staying in shape, honing his game and making sure he’s ready for September,” general manager George McPhee said.
At that time, Eakin is expected to battle Sjogren on a daily basis for what could be the final open spot on the team. Obviously there’s a chance both make it (or that neither makes it), but that will be one of the top storylines of the fall.