ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Patrick Eaves was in the middle of a pregame nap when a phone call let him know he was headed right back to Disneyland.
The Anaheim Ducks acquired Eaves from the Dallas Stars on Friday in exchange for a conditional draft pick, adding a veteran goal-scoring forward for the playoff push.
Eaves had just returned to Texas from Orange County on Wednesday after a theme park trip with his wife and children. He’ll spend the rest of the year attempting to push the Ducks to another Stanley Cup title.
”Your world gets put upside-down real quick, but I’m excited,” Eaves said in a phone interview. ”I want to get out there as soon as possible, and fortunately we’ve got an afternoon game (Saturday at Los Angeles), so I’ll be ready for that.”
Eaves has a career-high 21 goals and 16 assists in 59 games this season for the Stars. His 37 points also are already a career-high in his 12 NHL seasons, and he is fourth in the NHL with 11 power-play goals.
Anaheim is in need of goal-scoring threats and veteran tenacity, particularly while Antoine Vermette is under a 10-game suspension. Eaves played with Vermette in Ottawa several seasons ago, and he played on a U.S. national junior team with Ducks center Ryan Kesler.
”I’m really excited about it, just because of the way (the Ducks) are playing and the way they’re positioned in the playoff hunt,” Eaves said. ”It’s exciting, and I think all the nerves and everything that I’m experiencing right now will go away once the games start.”
The Ducks began Friday tied with Edmonton for second place in the Pacific Division, three points behind San Jose.
Eaves fills several obvious needs in Anaheim: His 21 goals are more than every Anaheim player this season except Rickard Rakell, while his 37 points match Jakob Silfverberg for the fourth-most on the Ducks’ roster. The Ducks’ power play is in a 2-for-32 slump over the past month, and Eaves has been one of the NHL’s most consistent producers with the man advantage.
”I’ve gotten a lot of good opportunity this year with being on the power play and playing a lot of good minutes 5-on-5,” said Eaves, a frequent linemate of stars Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. ”Fortunately, I haven’t been hit by a puck this year that’s done any damage, and I’ve been getting some good bounces, so all those things together have helped me put up the numbers that I have this year. Hopefully I can continue to pass them on with the Ducks.”
Eaves is making $1 million this season before he hits unrestricted free agency this summer, so the Ducks are renting a veteran forward in the midst of a career year. Anaheim is the sixth NHL franchise for Eaves, who has been in Dallas since 2014.
The Ducks gave up their rights to a 2017 second-round draft pick acquired in their trade of goalie Frederik Andersen to Toronto last summer. But the Stars said they will get Anaheim’s first-round selection this summer instead if the Ducks reach the Western Conference finals and Eaves plays in 50 percent or more of their games in the first two postseason rounds.
The Ducks begin their bye week after the weekend. They returned rookie forward Nic Kerdiles to their AHL affiliate in San Diego to make room for Eaves on their roster.