Versatile Eaves Looks to Add to Stars' Speed, Depth
When it comes to the Dallas Stars’ offseason moves, the signing of forward Patrick Eaves has flown under the radar, but the veteran forward hopes to make an impact this coming season.
“I can play an up-tempo game and I hope to add to the speed that they already have and then I can play in all situations,” Eaves said. “If they need me to PK, I can do that. Five-on-five is fine and power play is good too. They can kind of plug me in wherever and I think I can contribute. So that is what I’m looking to do.”
And that versatility is what the Stars like about the 30-year-old Eaves, who has played with Ottawa, Carolina, Detroit and Nashville over a nine-year NHL career.
“He’s a jack-of-all-trades,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “He can play a lot of positions. He can play both sides of special teams. He’s been a power play guy. He’s been a penalty killer. He’s got the ability to score goals. Jim [Nill] knows a lot about him. I know a little bit less, but from what I’ve heard he’s a guy you can use in almost any situation and can play a lot of different positions.”
Eaves has tallied 146 points (72 goals, 74 assists) in 444 NHL games. He brings 67 games of Stanley Cup playoff experience as well. Injuries have slowed him in recent years. He sat out most of the 2011-12 season after getting hit in the jaw with a puck off the stick of Nashville defenseman Roman Josi. He missed the beginning and end of last season with injuries while playing for both Detroit and Nashville.
The Red Wings traded Eaves to the Predators just prior to the trade deadline as part of the deal that sent David Legwand to Detroit, where Eaves played for almost five seasons and where Stars GM Jim Nill got to know him well.
“He’s a very versatile player. He can play up and down your lineup. He plays hard. He’s been a winner,” Nill said. “I’ve had him at Detroit and been very comfortable with him there. I like the versatility he brings to our team.”
And, of course, Eaves knows Nill as well, and that influenced his decision to sign a one-year contract with the Stars on the first day of free agency in July.
“Absolutely it was a huge factor, from knowing Jim from my time with the Wings,” Eaves said. “He’s got a real good thing going down there. I know they are a hard team to play against and, they are making moves. They are going places and I want to be a part of it.”
Those moves by Nill this summer included the trade for center Jason Spezza, a guy Eaves played with early in his career in Ottawa, and the signing of Ales Hemsky, whom Eaves has played against a lot over the years.
“I played with Spezza up in Ottawa for two-and-a-half years when I first started out and played on his line a bit. He’s a special talent. For Jim to go out and get him is huge for the club,” Eaves said. “I played against Ales Hemsky for a while now and he’s a dangerous, skilled player. They just made really good signings and obviously Anders Lindback (signed as a backup goaltender) is a great goalie. I think the changes that were made were only great changes and I think they’re part of Jim Nill’s blueprint.”
That blueprint gives the Stars a deep set of forwards, and where Eaves fits will be determined in training camp. But with his versatility and skating ability, the veteran winger is ready to show that he can blend right in and contribute.
“They seem to play a lot faster,” Eaves said. “Everyone can skate on their team front to back and then obviously, they have really solid goaltending. So, I think the league is going fast and to be able to play four lines and go deep. Just from playing against them, that’s what they do. That’s what they bring every night. Hopefully, I can add to that.”