Eakin stock on rise

KEN WIEBE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

Few players have done more in the course of the past year to raise their draft stock than Cody Eakin.

Going into last season, the Winnipeg-born centre was viewed as a decent mid-level prospect but little more than that.

But thanks to a strong season with the Swift Current Broncos and a head-turning performance at the CHL Top Prospects game, followed up with a solid showing with Team Canada at the Under-18 championship, there's an outside chance Eakin could be a late first-round selection when the NHL Entry Draft gets underway at the Bell Centre in Montreal tomorrow night.

Source of pride

"I don't want to go in with too many expectations," Eakin said earlier this week before departing for la belle province. "If it happens (that he goes in the first round), it would be a source of pride, but in the long run it doesn't really mean anything. No matter where you go, you want to go to a team that really wants to have you. It's about what you do in camp."

The only players with Manitoba connections who are expected to be chosen before Eakin are Brandon Wheat Kings linemates Brayden Schenn, who won't likely make it past the Toronto Maple Leafs at No. 7, and Winnipegger Scott Glennie, who is likely to be picked 11th or sooner.

While it's more likely Eakin will be chosen in the second round, the smooth skater understands what matters most is what he does with the opportunity provided by the team that selects him.

"I'm a little bit nervous, but you can't really do too much about it now," said Eakin, who recently attended the NHL Combine in Toronto. "I'm really looking forward to it. A lot of people have said it's going to be an unreal time. It's only going to happen once. I'm pretty excited for the experience and I'm going to hope for the best."

Eakin enters the draft as the 29th-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting, the 46th-ranked player by International Scouting Service and was the 53rd-rated prospect in the TSN rankings made by Bob McKenzie.

"Every guy looks at the rankings, but they're just rankings," said Eakin. "Whatever happens, happens."

One of the highlights for Eakin this season was having the chance to suit up in the Top Prospects game, where he played on a line with John Tavares, who is expected to be the first overall pick tomorrow.

"It was awesome, we worked well with each other," said Eakin, who was selected as the game MVP for Team Orr in a 6-1 romp over Team Cherry. "I just wanted to go in and show what I could do. I came out with a pretty decent game and a good end result."

Eakin plans to spend the rest of the summer training hard for the upcoming Western Hockey League season.

He'll attend the rookie camp of the NHL team that selects him and could be added for Team Canada's selection camp later this summer, should an injury arise.

Eakin would love to suit up for Canada as it goes for a sixth consecutive gold medal in Saskatoon.

"I didn't get a spot in the tryout, but the coach called me and said I'm kind of the next guy on the list, if something happens," said Eakin. "If it doesn't happen, there's always the winter. If you have a good start to the season, you never know what can happen. I'm going to work hard this summer, have a good start to the season and see where it takes me."


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