Lincoln Eaves in a red hockey uniform on the ice
(Photo: Lincoln Eaves)

Now that the Saskatoon Blades’ 2023-24 season has come to an end, their focus turns to the future. The 2024 WHL Draft has come and gone, and as the Blades build their prospect pool, players like Lethbridge Golden Hawks forward Lincoln Eaves are one step closer to their dream being realized.

“I was just super happy to join such a great organization,” Eaves said upon being drafted to the Saskatoon Blades. “I was really hoping to go to Saskatoon…I really like what they have to offer.”

Hailing from Lethbridge, Alberta, Eaves plays for the Lethbridge Golden Hawks U15 AAA, also known as the Val Matteotti Golden Hawks, of the Alberta Elite Hockey League (AEHL). In his first season with the team (2022-23), he recorded 15 points (3G-12A) in 32 games played. In the most recent season (2023-24), Eaves’ point production nearly quadrupled, going up to 51 points (21G-30A) in 33 games played. 

“In the off-season I really just focused on developing… the gym was really important to me and every time I went out on the ice I wanted to do something,” Eaves said. “I’m always just trying to focus on getting stronger and faster and really trying to get faster on the ice.” 

The Early Days

Like most other players, Lincoln Eaves’ love for hockey started young. He began playing around four years old. When he was little, he’d prefer a Calgary Flames game to cartoons. “I never wanted to watch cartoons—it was always hockey,” he said. 

The Flames have a special place in Eaves’ heart, including former Flame Matthew Tkachuk, a player that Eaves noted for his grittiness and ability to get under other players’ skin. Eaves himself highlighted that he can be the same way, bringing a physical game to the ice that fans may not expect.

“I didn’t really show it this year, but you can see a lot more of it my first year in Bantam: I can really be a physical player when I put my mind to it. If I’m playing up or down a lineup I really try to bring it day in and day out.” 

The AEHL

The Western Hockey League and the Alberta Elite Hockey League are two completely different leagues, formatted, run, operated, and presented in unique ways. While the WHL is Major Juniors, the AEHL is a sanctioned league of Hockey Alberta, comprised of various divisions, including U18 AAA, U17 AAA, and U15 AAA, the latter of which Eaves currently plays under. Although it’s a lower level than the WHL, AEHL hockey should not be discounted. 

“The AEHL is a tough league for sure with a high compete level,” Eaves said. “Every team is pretty close to each other in skill level and in my opinion it’s a very defensive-based league.”

(Photo: Lincoln Eaves)

As he prepares for his future in hockey, whether in the WHL or beyond, Eaves’ current focus is on school and improving his game. Being only fifteen, he recognizes the importance of maintaining a proper “work-life” balance, using the time the league gives him to get ahead of his schoolwork so he can play the hockey he wants to. 

His Future in Saskatoon

The Saskatoon Blades chose Eaves in the twelfth round of the 2024 WHL Draft, 265th overall. Although other teams were interested in him, Eaves emphasized his excitement that it was Saskatoon who took him in the draft. “I like their rink,” he said, “I’ve heard it’s really big and nice. [I like] how they operate, how they run things.” 

The 2023-24 Blades roster has a myriad of players for Eaves to look up to, but he specifically highlighted Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Fraser Minten as someone he admires. “I really like Fraser Minten,” he said. “He went into Toronto’s camp a year or two ago and surprised a lot of people.” Minten was a fan-favorite in Saskatoon this past season, bringing to the team a high offensive output and an overall fun game to watch.

When it comes to what Lincoln Eaves himself will bring to Saskatoon, he said, “I like to think I’m a speedy playmaker that sees the ice really well. I can play up and down the lineup, I can play physical, I can play skilled.” 

He also feeds off the crowd’s energy, so he’s looking forward to playing in front of more fans and in a bigger rink. As he mentioned previously, Saskatoon has a bigger arena than he’s used to playing in, and against bigger teams. One of said teams includes his hometown Lethbridge Hurricanes, a team he’s excited to play against both at home in Saskatoon and away in Lethbridge.

Q&A with Lincoln Eaves: 

(Photo: Lincoln Eaves)

Gabe Neumann: What does an average gameday look like for you?

Lincoln Eaves: I wake up, I shower, I have breakfast, I go to the rink, tape my stick, warm up, go play.

GN: If you weren’t a hockey player, what would your dream job be?

LE: I’d probably end up being a firefighter. I’ve always been fascinated with that job.

GN: Starbucks or [Tim Hortons]?

LE: Timmies for sure.

GN: What’s your coffee order?

LE: I don’t really drink coffee, but when I do I don’t like it dark. I like more sweet coffee.

GN: If you could have a personalized goal song, what would it be? 

LE: “Don’t Stop the Party” by Pitbull. Get everybody hyped up. 

GN: What’s your hockey nickname?

LE: Everybody mostly calls me Linco. 

GN: What’s a message you have for the Saskatoon Blades, either the organization or the fanbase? 

LE: I’m just super excited to join a great organization within hopefully the next two years, and I’m excited they’ve given me a chance.