Eaves is a well-liked player that I never really understood until after he was injured in 2011 (by a slapshot from a Nashville defenseman no less). He’s great on the penalty kill, solid 4th-liner, and great in the room (I haven’t actually heard that but it’s become such a cliche I’m assuming it applies to everyone). Eaves is good to have but the big issue with him is that he has spent part of the year in Grand Rapids, and lots of his time with the big club as a healthy scratch.
Detroit has had too many forwards since before signing Dan Cleary and certainly continues to at this point in the season. Eaves just didn’t make the cut and the Red Wings staff felt that his spot on the roster was better in the hands of someone else. At 29-years-old, Eaves isn’t too old but he’s certainly done developing. The long and short of it is, Eaves has peaked. He wasn’t going to be more than a 4th-liner for this team and if he couldn’t’ even make the cut for that. You can look at it and say he’s been cast off from the Red Wings to go elsewhere, or you can say he’s getting the opportunity to play in the NHL elsewhere. It’s been suggested that Eaves was a part of a salary dump in this trade to make room for Legwand, but with Zetterberg on LTIR I don’t think salary cap space was much of an issue here. The 50 contracts limit, however, probably was.
I like Eaves and I’m sorry to see him leave. But the brutal truth is that he’s more helpful to this team as a part of a trade than he is in Grand Rapids.