We've been going through a few of the Red Wings' players and figuring out which ones among those who are most-likely to be dealt for roster/cap space will be able to stick around because of the value they bring to the team. We've looked at destinations, we've looked at Cory Emmerton, and we've looked at Mikael Samuelsson. Next up is Patrick Eaves. As much as Samuelsson might be the easiest for fans to part with, Eaves may be the fan-favorite of the bunch.
Eaves missed more than a full calendar year of game action with concussion issues after taking a slapshot to the noggin in late 2011. He was able to return this season, getting into 34 regular season and 13 playoff games, putting up a grand total of 11 points in just over 10:30 per game of ice time. In terms of scoring pace, Eaves actually finished in the top half of Red Wings' forwards, despite limited ice time and the lowest percentage of offensive zone starts among forwards who got into 30 games.
Eaves is a two-way forward who can temporarily fill in on a top-six scoring role and can play good minutes shutting down the opposition. At 29, his cap hit, skillset, and genial attitude makes him an attractive trade target for a team looking to shore up depth. Still, there are good reasons to keep Eaves around. Let's explore them.
1. He's Versatile
Eaves isn't great at either scoring or defense. He's probably better at the latter than the former, but he's not going to get Selke consideration any time soon. You could put him on any of Detroit's four lines, on the power play, or on the penalty kill and you're not going to get a dumpster fire out of it. When you're looking for the player who may end up being the team's 14th forward, having one who can play a variety of roles gives the greatest degree of flexibility in the event that he's needed to be an injury fill-in.
Being a jack-of-all-trades is nice, but have you ever tried to do a significant amount of work with a Swiss Army Knife? It's a pain in the ass. If you need a screwdriver, it might be worth it to just call a screwdriver up from the minors [Riley Sheahan joke] rather than to keep using the less-efficient replacement you find in the all-purpose device. This metaphor sucks.
He Stacks Up Well Against his Competition
Eaves is a better possession player than Cory Emmerton and Jordin Tootoo who also puts up more points. He's more durable than Samuelsson while being cheaper than both Sammy and Tootoo. Heck, if you throw out common sense, Eaves is even better at faceoffs than Emmerton by percentage (Emmerton took 544 draws to Eaves' 11).
Ok, so he doesn't fight, he's not a center, and he's not...uhhh. Swedish? Still, the proxy of the game is possession and, by the numbers we've got, Eaves does that better than the other guys, despite costing less than two of the three. The one guy who might be better with the puck is significantly older and seemingly even more injury-prone than Eaves is.
I don't really have a "but" here. Look at this video of him being bad at the shootout instead of thinking about this too much.
The Idea that He's the Easiest to Trade Because of His Value is Backwards
Aren't you supposed to have guys who are valuable on your roster over guys who nobody else really wants? I mean, I'm not crazy here, right? With the recent Andersson signing, it's looking more and more like the Wings are going to be able to get away with taking the risk dumping different guy for little-to-no return. Eaves should outplay his potential return during the time frame when they'll actually need it.
Crazier things have happened. Losing Eaves isn't the end of the world or anything and if the late-round draft pick he's actually worth pans out in the long run, then it would be stupid NOT to trade him!
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I didn't do as good a job of objectivity in this one as I did in the others, did I? I've already made peace with the idea of Eaves being the convenient piece to go because they can probably find a taker. If it comes down to having to put guys on waivers where all salary considerations become equal, Eaves should absolutely stay, but it's not crucial he does so.