Monday, August 22, 2005

Senators sign Patrick Eaves

The Sens moved one step towards completely filling out their line-up today by signing 2003 first round pick (29th overall) Patrick Eaves to a three-year entry level contract.

Though no one from the team has said so, I expect Eaves to crack the line-up and be with the big club for opening night on October 5th. GM John Muckler did say that he and still-unsigned 2004 first round pick defenceman Andrej Meszaros would be given the opportunity to make the team, but even if they did have Eaves penciled in, it probably wouldn't be wise to say so publicly. You want him to think he has to earn said spot with his play.

Though he was drafted earlier than that, I first became aware of Eaves beyond his name in the '04 World Juniors, where, as part of the gold medal winning U.S. team, he was a presence in every game I watched. As Tom Benjamin would say, he was a "prominent player". You couldn't watch a U.S. game without noticing his play, and I recall remarking many times to friends watching with me that he played a lot better than he seems like he should given his draft position and size.

He is on the smallish side (5'11" - 175 pounds), but he plays beyond his size. The comparison often drawn is Mike Peca, a player Ottawa hockey fans know quite well, both from his three years here as a 67 and as a major part of the two Sabres teams that knocked the Senators out of the playoffs.

As a U.S. collegiate player, Eaves has shown steady improvement every year, with his last season with Boston College his best.
2002-03 Boston College NCAA 14GP, 10G, 8A, 18pts, 61pim
2003-04 Boston College NCAA 34GP, 18G, 23A, 41pts, 66pim
2004-05 Boston College NCAA 36GP, 19G, 29A, 48pts, 36 pim

'04-'05 was an especially memorable year for Eaves, as he was a first-team All-American, first-team All Conference (Hockey East), Hockey East Player Of The Year, two time Hockey East Player Of The Month (Oct. & Jan.), and NCAA National Player Of The Month (Jan.).

In Eaves, the Senators have something that many fans have been clamoring for. A scrappy, tough player (Vaclav Varada doesn't count, he's a filthy Euro, remember) whose game walks on the thin line between dirty and gritty. He has reputation for having a strange affinity for blocking shots, which, combined with his slight stature and his brief injury history, might be worrisome. However, I have to think that with maturity, and more experienced players in his ear, he'll pick and chose when to dive in front of pucks.

Like a lot of second generation players (his father Mike played with the Minnesota North Stars), his hockey IQ is said to be one of his best attributes. And though it may not rank as highly as blazing speed or a blistering shot on most people's "want list" for a prospect, a good hockey mind can't be taught, and won't diminish with age or injures.

Senators fans should be excited about this promising youngster possibly suiting up for the team in a few months. Something tells me he'll quickly turn heads and become a fan favorite.


At 11:24 PM, Blogger aquietgirl said...

Apparently, on a power-play for the other team, Eaves dropped down and blocked a slapshot with his chest. This kid is insane. I can't wait.

At 11:32 PM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

Yeah, I've heard that story too. While I admire that kind of thing, it's also somewhat alarming. Hopefully Murray or Muckler or one of the vets (Alfredsson) pull him aside and say to lay off on that kinda thing.

At 8:49 AM, Blogger just'cuz said...

Has anybody heard much about Brandon Bochenski? I hear he's a pure goal scorer. And he's a left winger!
I've read that he has a problem in the defensive part of his game. So what, put him on the first line (with Spezza and Alfie or Hossa) and he won't have to worry too much about playing d.

At 10:28 AM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

I really like Bochenski a lot, and would like to see him crack the line-up, but most others feel like he's too far down the depth chart at this point and still needs some seasoning.

At 11:53 AM, Blogger just'cuz said...

What depth chart (go to the Sens site and you'll see that there is no depth chart)? Who do the Sens have, on the left side that has more potential as a scorer?

Alfredsson, Havlat and Hossa all play the right side. Bondra proved that moving from right wing to the left, is a lot tougher than people think. Schaefer and Varada are the only true left wingers with NHL experience. All of the other forwards are centremen and right wingers. Schaefer as the first-line left wing is a scary thought and moving somebody over will not be an easy task. Unless they're going to move Chris Neil up to the first line (to protect Spezza and Alfredsson), I don't think there are very many options.

At 12:20 PM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

Havlat will be moving to the left side this year, and Bryan Smolinski often played left wing last year.

At 12:25 PM, Blogger just'cuz said...

Smolinski on left wing was not counted on to score. I'm hoping for more production form the left side.

Maybe, Havlat can make the switch but I think they should put Hossa there...part of the extra pressure of earning his money!

At 2:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best regards from NY!


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