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After four impressive seasons in the Western Hockey League, the Washington Capitals believe Cody Eakin will be a big part of their team at some point down the road, the only question is when.
The 85th Overall Pick in the 2009 NHL draft, Eakin has blossomed into a high-level prospect over the last couple of years, but it's still unclear as to what kind of role he's capable of playing at the next level.
He has the grit, speed and tenacity to be a very effective third-line center, but his numbers at the Major Junior level suggest there's a chance he could be a top-six forward eventually. At 20, Eakin clearly still has developing to do, but if he outplays Sjogren, Perreault and Chris Bourque in the final week of preseason, he may earn himself a roster spot.
Eakin has been skating on the Caps' third line for much of the preseason, but that's largely due to the fact that the organization wants to see how he performs in the role. If he doesn't make the team out of training camp, he'll get the opportunity to prove himself in Hershey, which may not be such a bad thing for a player who's had so much success early in his career.
He's a leader, which is a trait that the coaches and management team in Washington value heavily, but he'll have to beat out a few more experienced players in order to earn a roster spot this year. In addition, if he does make the roster, it likely won't be as a center, so Eakin would probably best be suited to spend time in Hershey, at least to start the year.
Chances of making the roster: 25 percent. With Ovechkin, Backstrom, Knuble, Semin, Johansson, Laich, Brouwer, Ward, Chimera, Halpern and Hendricks in the lineup, there's only one spot in the lineup available at this stage.
Washington will likely elect to go with a more experienced forward to round out their forwards, in order to give Eakin more ice time at the AHL level to develop. He'll be monitored closely.