The 33-year-old veteran posted a career-best 32 goals and 51 points, as everything went right for Eaves in 2016-17. He excelled on Dallas' No. 1 power-play unit while logging big minutes alongside Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin at five-on-five, and then after Eaves was traded to Anaheim, he clicked immediately with Ryan Getzlaf. Staying healthy and suiting up for 78 games was also a huge fantasy boon. While last season's 15.3 shooting percentage will definitely be difficult to repeat, and good health will be critical to Eaves having a solid follow up this year, he could easily turn in another solid fantasy showing flanking Getzlaf and logging ripe minutes with the man advantage. Additionally, Eaves posted a 13.9 shooting percentage through his 160 career games with Dallas, so his shooting efficiency appears to be more skill than luck considering his established track record.
Despite missing significant time last season with a broken ankle and concussion, Eaves was a productive depth scorer for the Stars when healthy, striking 14 times in just 47 games. The 31-year-old potted a career-high six power-play goals and led all Stars with a plus-12 rating. It’s extremely crowded up front in Dallas, but the Stars showed a willingness last season to occasionally use Eaves in their top six along with his role on the second power-play unit. However, the offseason acquisition of winger Patrick Sharp could push Eaves into the Stars' bottom-six ranks, where he's probably a more ideal fit. Even so, it's an assignment that would prove highly damaging to Eaves' fantasy appeal. In addition, the winger's lengthy history of head injuries makes him an annual health risk, and may have decreased his willingness to dole out hits. Eaves' total of 27 points last season would prorate out to 47 over an 82-game schedule, but because he's usually a safe bet to miss at least a handful of games, his scoring numbers should always contain some built-in regression.
Eaves comes to the Stars as an insurance policy to protect against the inconsistencies of some of the team's young players. He doesn't figure to play 82 games and even if he did, his production would be limited. He'll dart in and out of the lineup across the bottom six, and that makes him a now 30-year-old utility man. And there's never much value in utility guys...
Eaves was in and out of the lineup in both the regular season and playoffs, as coach Mike Babcock never really settled on a fourth line he liked. Eaves had 20 points in 2009-10 and 2010-11, but has only scored nine points in 44 games in the last two years. He will have to capture that old magic if he's to stake a claim to the checking line in 2013-14.
Eaves was struck in the face while blocking a shot and the resulting jaw fracture and post-concussion symptoms ended his season after just 10 games last year. Even with the need for secondary scoring, Eaves won't be thrust into a top-six gig and his ceiling remains that of 20-25 point player if he's healthy. All signs point to him being 100 percent when training camp gets underway in September, putting him on track for a 12-minute per game checking role.
Eaves is back in Detroit after signing a three-year deal as an unrestricted free agent in July. He should be utilized in a similar checking-line role again this season, so the former first-round pick will likely have a difficult time cracking the 30-point mark. Still, the Wings don't need him for his offense, so you should follow their lead unless defensively sound role-players provide value in your league format.
In a word, grinder. Eaves spent most of the year as a checking-line winger, doing the dirty work and earning the trust of the team's coaching staff with strong two-way play. He rebounded at the offensive end after a pair of quiet seasons spent in Ottawa and Carolina, but Eaves isn't forecasted for more than a third-line and penalty-killing role in Detroit and he's unlikely to push much further than the 25-30 point range as long as he's with the Wings.
Eaves has proven that he can score at the NHL level -- 20 goals in 58 games as a rookie with Ottawa -- so it's possible that he'll follow in the footsteps of other Detroit resurrection projects that have ultimately led to the likes of Mikael Samuelsson and Dan Cleary becoming significant role players for the Wings after getting discarded by their former clubs. Don't be surprised if he spikes back into the 35-40 point range now that he's playing with a well-oiled offensive machine.
If you need to take a chance in the late rounds of a deep draft, Eaves offers decent prospects of a significant increase from last season's curtailed numbers. In shallow leagues, he belongs nowhere near your draft list. At 24, he's entering his fourth NHL season, and should benefit from the experience of the first three.
With the trade of second-line winger Peter Schaefer to Boston, Eaves should see his ice-time increase and may be given a chance to play on the second line. With Eaves' skill and fine hockey sense, he should be able to get close to 20 goals this year.
Eaves should improve his totals from last year as he’ll be given more playing time now that Havlat’s spot on the second line is open. At only 22 years of age, the right winger has already impressed his peers. With that said, Eaves is, at best, a late-round pick and should only be considered in deep drafts and keeper leagues.
Eaves is a longshot to make the team this year but he's gifted offensively and has a bright future with Ottawa.