On the morning when Patrick Eaves would have become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his young career, he elected for the certainty and stability of the place that he has called home for the last two years.
Eaves was drafted after a stellar career at Boston College, one where he was a Hobey Baker finalist once, by the Ottawa Senators in the first round of the 2003 draft.
His rookie year of 2005-06 was incredibly successful, tallying 20 goals.
From there though, Eaves’ production and health took a bit of a hit.
He battled concussions and shoulder injuries and was eventually traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in 2008.
He continued not to produce even with his new team, partly as a result of the injuries and partly from being in an uncertain role. Was he a scorer, or a checker?
In the summer of 2009, the Hurricanes traded Eaves, along with a fourth round pick to the Boston Bruins for defenseman Aaron Ward.
The Bruins were really only interested in getting rid of Ward’s salary and acquiring the fourth rounder in return, as they bought out Eaves.
Less than two weeks later, Eaves found himself on a one year, league minimum contract with the Detroit Red Wings. Since he was also being paid by the Bruins as part of the buyout, Eaves took a one year, redemption-type of deal to prove to the league he could still play.
In return, the Red Wings acquired a tireless player who would sacrifice his body for the good of the team. He was constantly limping off the ice as a result of blocking a potential shot on goal, throwing or receiving a hit, and generally playing with a disregard for his own well-being.
All of this, and he managed to put up 12 goals and 22 points in his limited role. Eaves has a deceptively hard wrist shot, that he can get off quickly and fool goalies who aren’t expecting that out of a fourth line winger.
Eaves earned himself another one year deal at the end of the 2009-2010 season, so he was again playing for his NHL life.
He improved on his goal total from the previous year, posting 13. With the Wings having more depth in the 2010-2011 season than they had in the previous year, Eaves saw himself early on as part of a group of players who were rotated in and out of the lineup as healthy scratches.
He eventually worked his way out of that rotation due to his strong play, and thanks in no small part to a hat trick he scored against the Dallas Stars.
He played all 11 playoff games for the Wings, and scored three times.
His new three year deal gives him the stability he has not enjoyed in a long time of knowing that he doesn’t have to worry about finding a new place to live every year. It rewards a player who has been the ultimate team guy, playing much bigger than his size.
Eaves will earn an average of $1.2M for the next three seasons with the Red Wings.