The Caps' rookie forward saw less than 10 minutes of ice time in five of his last six games under coach Dale Hunter. He was not used on the power play or on penalty kills and with a roster holiday freeze in effect through Dec. 27, the Caps decided to send him to Hershey.
"He needs to get some playing time," Hunter said. "He's a young player and the more games he gets at (the NHL) level and the (AHL) level, it'll help his game."
At 20, Eakin is still considered a top prospect for the Capitals, but in 19 games he had just three goals and three assists and at times was a defensive liability.
"He's going to be a good NHL player," Hunter said. "He's a young guy and the more ice time he gets, it will speed that up.He'll be back up. He knows what it takes now. By not playing (NHL games) you don't know. But now he knows what it takes."
The Caps' roster is now set at 22 players with 12 healthy forwards and seven healthy defensemen. Jay Beagle (concussion) likely will not be cleared to play until the new year and Mike Green (right groin strain) could be on a similar timetable.
Green visited with a specialist last week and skated for 30 minutes on his own on Monday but has not practiced with the team under Hunter and likely will need at least two more weeks of hard skating before he is cleared.
In the meantime, Hunter said the Hershey Bears are close enough to recall a player on the day of a game, if necessary.
"Hershey's not that far," Hunter said. "It's convenient for us coaches to have the farm team so close. We could call them up at 3 o'clock (for a 7 p.m. game)."