Edmonton Oilers waive Ben Eager

Jonathan Willis
March 13 2013 10:40AM

 

The Edmonton Oilers have placed veteran forward Ben Eager on waivers.

Eager is in the second year of a three-year, $3.3 million contract with the Oilers. His actual salary escalates from $1.1 million this season to $1.2 million next year.

Eager has an impressive toolkit - with his size and speed, more than one observer has pictured him as a potential power forward. It's one of the reasons Phoenix made him a first round pick back in 2002. Unfortunately, he hasn't lived up to his potential in Edmonton - at times not offering the physical deterrent the team would have liked to see, at other times simply failing to make an impact as a hockey player.

Certainly his results early in 2013 could have been better. The Oilers have been comically out-shot with Eager on the ice - 39-to-22 in an average hour of 5-on-5 play. 

The addition of Mike Brown - a smaller player who not only fights more frequently but has a better defensive resume than Eager - also undoubtedly played into this decision. Eager had been a healthy scratch since the Oilers' loss against Nashville on March 8, while Brown had averaged more than 10:00 per game in the two contests following it. Also likely playing into the decision has been the play of Magnus Paajarvi, who could be demoted without needing to clear waivers; Paajarvi however has been one of the Oilers' best players in recent games and his demotion would have made the club a worse team. 

In Eager's defence, injury has not been kind to him. He suffered a concussion in his first training camp with the Oilers, courtesy of teammate Kirill Tulupov, and suffered another one this season in a fight against Zack Kassian on opening night against the Canucks. During his time in Edmonton, he simply hasn't had the benefit of starting the season healthy - which might go some way to explaining why he's been so ineffective as an Oiler after some decent fourth-line stints with his previous teams. 

Will he clear waivers? One would imagine, given his career, that some NHL club will be interested in his services - but with the cap falling next year, that extra season on his contract might scare some teams off.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Phixieus666
March 13 2013, 10:42AM
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wow so that would mean that no other team in the league was even willing to give up a draft pick for him.

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#2 The Soup Fascist
March 13 2013, 10:42AM
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Too bad, as I think concussions have derailed him a bit, but he is a redundant piece with Brown playing well.

All the tools the Oilers need, but Renney tied his hands last year. And between the cheap shot he took at the Joey Moss Cup last year and Kassian dimming his lights this year, pretty hard to play the style he needs to play to stay in the lineup.

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#3 watkinator
March 13 2013, 10:43AM
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Fist to send him on his way! Bout time

Edit: Failed!

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#4 Romulus' Apotheosis
March 13 2013, 10:43AM
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they couldn't find a pick for him somewhere?

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#5 Ogie Oilthorpe
March 13 2013, 10:46AM
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I can't we couldn't get at least a low pick for him. He had a few good games this year, but his inconsistency and most likely his past "bottle issues" might scare most teams away.. Not Big Steve though, lets sign him to a 3 year deal. Oilers management rocks!

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#6 Phixieus666
March 13 2013, 10:50AM
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And they lost Clark as well.

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#7 Ogie Oilthorpe
March 13 2013, 10:53AM
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Good point, he turned down a few opportunities to drop his mittens after he got his bell rung this year.

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#8 Aitch
March 13 2013, 10:56AM
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Phixieus666 wrote:

And they lost Clark as well.

To who?

If the article yesterday was right, he'll need to go through waivers to play in the NHL. Might still have a shot at him... but we'd probably need to send someone else out before tomorrow cuz there is no need to have 9 d-men on the roster.

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#9 DSF
March 13 2013, 10:58AM
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Aitch wrote:

To who?

If the article yesterday was right, he'll need to go through waivers to play in the NHL. Might still have a shot at him... but we'd probably need to send someone else out before tomorrow cuz there is no need to have 9 d-men on the roster.

Signed by Minnesota.

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#10 Sliderule
March 13 2013, 11:01AM
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We have now waived two of our three UFA signings of 2011 and 12.

The other one Belanger they will either buyout or try waivers to find a fish.

It's a sad commentary of our management and pro scouting.

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#11 Phixieus666
March 13 2013, 11:02AM
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Aitch wrote:

To who?

If the article yesterday was right, he'll need to go through waivers to play in the NHL. Might still have a shot at him... but we'd probably need to send someone else out before tomorrow cuz there is no need to have 9 d-men on the roster.

Because he was on a try out and didn't play in any other league during the lockout I believe he doesn't need to clear waivers as long as hes playing in the NHL right away. Minny signed him.

http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2013/03/13/edmonton-oilers-lose-farmhand-d-man-brett-clark-to-minnesota/

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#12 Racki
March 13 2013, 11:07AM
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Thank god.. happy the Oilers dumped Ben Eager.. well, someone still has to pick him up... but at worst, he'll be in the AHL.

I won't bag on him too hard though.. enforcer is a tough role. I don't know if he stopped (or severely limited) doing it due to concussion problems or what. So I don't want to be overly critical of him. But it's clear that Mike Brown completely stole his job.

Good work to the management group for the big improvement in that area.

The Oilers gave it a go with him, it didn't work.. oh well.. moving on.

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#13 admiralmark
March 13 2013, 11:09AM
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Sliderule wrote:

We have now waived two of our three UFA signings of 2011 and 12.

The other one Belanger they will either buyout or try waivers to find a fish.

It's a sad commentary of our management and pro scouting.

So true.. Its hard to say what amount of blame goes to each party? But there is mounting evidence that the pro scouting dept. is in need of a rebuild also. This does not bode well for a club that starting right now needs to start filling in the gaps between the great players that are in place now. Do we have evidence this dept is up for the task? Will Howson help fix some of whats broke? I cringe in anticipation.

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#14 TKB2677
March 13 2013, 11:15AM
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It is really too bad for Eager. When the Oilers signed him, I really had high hopes for him. As JW said, he has a impressive tool kit.

I don't blame management for signing Eager. If you look at him and what he can do, there really is no reason why he can't be an effective 3rd - 4th liner that plays every night. Yes injuries haven't helped but there are a ton of guys in the league who are smaller than Eager that don't fight much that can play a very effective, physical, energy game.

Steve OTT is a good example. He is a little bit better of a player but Ott doesn't fight much, he's much smaller but he plays that energy, hits everything that moves, stirs the pot role. No reason Eager couldn't do that. Plus given his size, his hits would have a little more sting to them.

Really too bad he just fails to get it.

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#15 Dipstick
March 13 2013, 11:16AM
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The concussions have obviously limited his ability to play the style that is required. This kind of bad luck really sucks for pro athletes. I don't blame management for trying him out, only the contract length.

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#16 eastcoastoil
March 13 2013, 11:19AM
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JW,

is no market for Eager and cleaning house a good sign?

How does waving a player affect the 50 player cap?

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#17 Maverick
March 13 2013, 11:22AM
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Not sad news today, glad the Oilers decided to waive Eager. The trade for Brown made this possible, plus Brown is much better defensively.

The more disturbing thing is that this is another great signing of 2010 from Tambellini that has failed, only Belanger left and he might be the next one to be waived or buyout. Truly sad management decisions, as one twitter mentioned, Tambellini is a dead man walking.....

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#18 Racki
March 13 2013, 11:23AM
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Sliderule wrote:

We have now waived two of our three UFA signings of 2011 and 12.

The other one Belanger they will either buyout or try waivers to find a fish.

It's a sad commentary of our management and pro scouting.

Not that we're paid to be pro scouts, but I find this comment to be completely "hindsight".

I'm not one to normally defend management or our pro scouting.. I do believe they have issues... but I can say that a LOT of people were pushing for us to sign Eric Belanger (fans and media were salivating over him). And why not? We needed a guy to win draws, and he's a wizard at that and appeared to be reliable offensively too (we've now learned that Eric Belanger is where offense goes to die). The guy had some really nice numbers with a handful of different teams. I can almost guarantee that MOST people were ecstatic about this signing (myself included).

As for Ben Eager, I would say the same re: him too. Some hated that one, so I think there was a bit of a split. When he first started here, I think people saw pretty high potential with him though.. he looked like a guy that could play physical but was also fast and strong on the puck. He looked like a good signing. Now I think concussion issues (see: Tulupov) have killed his game. That isn't the fault of Oilers management or our pro-scouting. I'm not even sure if it's Ben Eager's fault. He COULD have worked here, and I see no problem with the Oilers having given it a shot.

Now it's time to move on from those guys and give it another go in free agency. I have no problems with the "tryouts" with these guys not working as expected. The moves I absolutely despise are removing guys like Kyle Brodziak and Curtis Glencross that clearly worked really well in their roles.

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#19 Maverick
March 13 2013, 11:30AM
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Quick question: Now that Brett Clark is leaving OKC for the NHL that opens up a veteran spot on the OKC roster. If Brett Clark had not been signed by another NHL club would Eager be sent down to OKC? Are they not at the maximum allow level for veteran contain on the OKC roster?

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#20 HardBoiledOil
March 13 2013, 11:34AM
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about friggin' time!! maybe a contender can pick him up and he'll play motivated again!! Mike Brown has out played him 5 to 1.

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#21 book¡e
March 13 2013, 11:41AM
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Phixieus666 wrote:

And they lost Clark as well.

You mean they didn't sign a marginal NHL defensman to join their ranks of marginal NHL defensman even though it would further add to their contract count?

Wow, stunningly logical decision by the Oilers. I presume that is what you meant.

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#22 DigDeepNBleedBlue
March 13 2013, 11:43AM
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When Eager manned up and brought his game to the table he was effective. Unfortunately, he didn't do it often enough. That was evident in his last three or four games. The games before that, mind you, he played pretty decent hockey.

I'm not completely on board with this decision, but someone had to go and this is a results oriented business.

This 8 D-men on the roster is showing problematic for the forwards.

That all said, kudos to Paajarvi and Hartikainen. They've now chased two cats off of this roster.

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#23 Will
March 13 2013, 11:44AM
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I think in both Belangier and Eager's case, it's too bad they didn't work out as billed. Eager had some rough concussion luck. I don't think you can blame management or player for that.

Whereas Belangier was such a great signing at the time. Consistent 45 point guy that wins draws, playing on a team with half the skill of the Oilers, who chose here over three other teams. That was huge. That he didn't work out is more in the way Eric Cole didn't work out.

Barker, bad. Belangier, unfortunately not good enough. Eage, injured. Jones, gooood. Brown, good so far. Schultz, soooo goood.

So in terms of free agents, waivers and a trade. Management hasn't done terrible.

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#24 bwar
March 13 2013, 11:45AM
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Someone just got a nice free gift from the Oilers.

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#25 Phixieus666
March 13 2013, 11:47AM
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book¡e wrote:

You mean they didn't sign a marginal NHL defensman to join their ranks of marginal NHL defensman even though it would further add to their contract count?

Wow, stunningly logical decision by the Oilers. I presume that is what you meant.

Clark is better than Potter and another Vet would help the team. I Think they had him setup to be signed right at the deadline so they could move a bunch of pieces out.

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#26 Racki
March 13 2013, 11:48AM
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Will wrote:

I think in both Belangier and Eager's case, it's too bad they didn't work out as billed. Eager had some rough concussion luck. I don't think you can blame management or player for that.

Whereas Belangier was such a great signing at the time. Consistent 45 point guy that wins draws, playing on a team with half the skill of the Oilers, who chose here over three other teams. That was huge. That he didn't work out is more in the way Eric Cole didn't work out.

Barker, bad. Belangier, unfortunately not good enough. Eage, injured. Jones, gooood. Brown, good so far. Schultz, soooo goood.

So in terms of free agents, waivers and a trade. Management hasn't done terrible.

+1, regarding those moves...

For me it's more about the moves they haven't made. Although some of the past pickups have looked terrible (ex. Kurtis Foster, Cam Barker, Colin Fraser, etc.).

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#27 EHH Team
March 13 2013, 11:49AM
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Maverick wrote:

Not sad news today, glad the Oilers decided to waive Eager. The trade for Brown made this possible, plus Brown is much better defensively.

The more disturbing thing is that this is another great signing of 2010 from Tambellini that has failed, only Belanger left and he might be the next one to be waived or buyout. Truly sad management decisions, as one twitter mentioned, Tambellini is a dead man walking.....

You are not being fair about Eager. His career has been derailed by concussions.

I agree with waiving him, but at the time he was signed, he had no history of concussions and looked to be the type of player the Oilers needed. In my view it was not a bad signing by Tambo, but the result turned out badly. Sh!t happens.

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#28 Dipstick
March 13 2013, 11:50AM
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Minnesota? I thought that they had such a solid D-corps. Is Clark able to displace someone from their roster, or is he able to join their AHL club without clearing waivers?

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#29 Ducey
March 13 2013, 11:55AM
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I blame Tulopov. Since that hit in an inter squad game (Eager wasn't really expecting it), Eager has not been the same. Tough to fight when you can't be hit in the head.

They need to waive Petrell next. The guy doesn't fight, isn't really hitting and is an offensive sink hole.

Brown and Jones can do anything he does, but better.

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#30 Lochenzo
March 13 2013, 12:00PM
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I blame the concussions. He was never really consistently better than a 4th line guy. But his claim to fame was the ability to scare the bejeebees out of opponents from time to time. He could do that because he could back it up with a fight.

But when you're worried about getting the next concussion, you can't fight and therefore, you can't run around out there like a psychopath. Then you're just a marginal 4th line guy.

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#31 Racki
March 13 2013, 12:03PM
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Ducey wrote:

I blame Tulopov. Since that hit in an inter squad game (Eager wasn't really expecting it), Eager has not been the same. Tough to fight when you can't be hit in the head.

They need to waive Petrell next. The guy doesn't fight, isn't really hitting and is an offensive sink hole.

Brown and Jones can do anything he does, but better.

I think Petrell is decently physical, but agree, he should be next on the hit list.. or try to sneak him down to OKC, if it is possible. Carrying him around for his PK skills.. not so sure that's the best idea since we have a decent group of guys that can handle that now. Even Gagner is doing it well. So yes, agreed on dropping Petrell.

The Oilers need to keep chipping away our bottom six and trying to find guys that will work better in that group. They also need some depth in this organization eventually too.. injuries occur and we are FUBAR.

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#32 Dan the Man
March 13 2013, 12:03PM
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I didn't mind the signing at the time but Eager simply hasn't been effective on a consistent basis.

Two concussions in two years is bad news for a player whose calling card is supposed to be physical play.

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#33 Will
March 13 2013, 12:09PM
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@Racki

Good call. Looking at past moves and things like free agents not wanting to play here from dump trucks of money, the rebuild just looks less like a strategy and more like a necessity.

Three points out of a playoff spot, and I'd say we're exactly where most people with any serious hockey knowledge predicted us to be. What they didn't predict, however, was how tight the race is.

I am surprised Eager didn't even return a low draft pick, but that's indicative of how Oiler fans unrealistically view the worth of our players. How everyone says Eager is not good enough to play on the Oilers, yet should command a pick in a trade return seems contradictory.

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#34 Racki
March 13 2013, 12:26PM
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@Will

Ya Will, and to add emphasis to the unlikelihood we'd get anything for Eager... Tencer figures he'll clear waivers. I don't think he will, but if there's a good chance he'll clear waivers.. what team in their right mind would pick him up for any pick??

Also, I really doubt that the Oilers just decided, "let's waive Eager" but never gave it a shot offering him to other teams. Reallllly doubt that. Obviously no one wanted him for a price.

Now that said, I have my beefs with management, but I like this new trend to admit when a player isn't working out, and move on. Previous years, we probably would have hung on to Eager for the remainder of the deal and toughed it out. It's an improvement, albeit a small one (and again, I still have my beefs, so not saying they are doing everything to my liking).

Next, I'd like to see the Oilers move Belanger by the deadline and find a replacement for him as soon as they can. They could use more depth in the bottom six too.

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#35 A-Mc
March 13 2013, 12:27PM
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Its too bad Eager wasn't working out. I'm an Eager fan: he's a massive dude with a mean streak who can skate. Like others have said, concussions Eff'd him and his career. Suck.

There were quite a few great nights for eager and i was getting excited for him, but with Brown coming in, there just wasn't anymore room for him.

Flip the Coin:

Brown is a champ! He is on overdrive every shift and seems to have a Jonesy-like knack for intercepting passes and/or causing turn overs. The dude is an interesting player to watch and i'm thinking the Oil did well for themselves with that pickup.

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#36 Quicksilver ballet
March 13 2013, 12:27PM
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Here we go again. This just exposes the shortcomings of the coaching/management on this team. A guy with Eagers gifts and the Oilers don't even know how to use him. A coveted fleet of foot abrasive winger with size and hands, and the Oilers are at a loss on how to use him. What a gong show this team is.

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#37 HardBoiledOil
March 13 2013, 12:30PM
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....and as soon as Lander is healthy, would be fine by me to say so long to Belanger too!!

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#38 jr
March 13 2013, 12:30PM
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I know J Willis probably doesn't read down to these low comments, but my question is what would it take for Brandon Dubinsky? I am not saying it is possible, just wondering. Good at faceoffs, average to good speed, tough in the corners, a little bit of size and at 4.2 for the next few years, and guy who could play top two lines if injury made it so. So what would it take?

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#39 druds
March 13 2013, 12:30PM
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bwar wrote:

Someone just got a nice free gift from the Oilers.

Eager? a gift? Oh sarcasm.....I get it

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#40 A-Mc
March 13 2013, 12:31PM
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HardBoiledOil wrote:

....and as soon as Lander is healthy, would be fine by me to say so long to Belanger too!!

He is healthy now i believe, and he was re-assigned to OKC.

I wouldn't be surprised if Lander is his replacement for next season. My sense is that lander will stay in OKC until belanger is gone and/or another injury occurs. I would think the Oilers want him to get lots of ice time in OKC for the remainder of the season.

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#41 HardBoiledOil
March 13 2013, 12:31PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Here we go again. This just exposes the shortcomings of the coaching/management on this team. A guy with Eagers gifts and the Oilers don't even know how to use him. A coveted fleet of foot abrasive winger with size and hands, and the Oilers are at a loss on how to use him. What a gong show this team is.

Eager has done more than his fair share of sucking since he got here and the same with Belanger...i only give partial blame to management...

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#42 druds
March 13 2013, 12:32PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Here we go again. This just exposes the shortcomings of the coaching/management on this team. A guy with Eagers gifts and the Oilers don't even know how to use him. A coveted fleet of foot abrasive winger with size and hands, and the Oilers are at a loss on how to use him. What a gong show this team is.

???? are you on drugs?....Ohhhhh Sarcasm...I just cannot get the hang of this

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#43 HardBoiledOil
March 13 2013, 12:32PM
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A-Mc wrote:

He is healthy now i believe, and he was re-assigned to OKC.

I wouldn't be surprised if Lander is his replacement for next season. My sense is that lander will stay in OKC until belanger is gone and/or another injury occurs. I would think the Oilers want him to get lots of ice time in OKC for the remainder of the season.

ah, OK. haven't been up on Lander's situation much.

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#44 Kodiak
March 13 2013, 12:34PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Here we go again. This just exposes the shortcomings of the coaching/management on this team. A guy with Eagers gifts and the Oilers don't even know how to use him. A coveted fleet of foot abrasive winger with size and hands, and the Oilers are at a loss on how to use him. What a gong show this team is.

The only thing that stopped Eager from playing the abrasive winger with size and hands role they had signed him to play was Eager himself. He never really embraced that role before the concussions.

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#45 Quicksilver ballet
March 13 2013, 12:37PM
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Sliderule wrote:

We have now waived two of our three UFA signings of 2011 and 12.

The other one Belanger they will either buyout or try waivers to find a fish.

It's a sad commentary of our management and pro scouting.

These guys helped management succeed well beyond their expectations these last two yrs. They accomplished exactly what they hoped they could.

You can't put that on the players/coaching when management controls the ingoing and outgoing talent.

Give Lowe some credit, management needed/wanted to tank, so they did.

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#46 Mike Krushelnyski
March 13 2013, 12:40PM
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Sign Cheechoo

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#47 Spydyr
March 13 2013, 12:44PM
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All the tools no toolbox.

Please, please let the triangle be next on waivers.

I know he is a center but he does not want to be here. Why keep someone that does not want to be here. Bring Lander back up in a few games and hope someone takes the triangle.

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#48 The Goalie 1976
March 13 2013, 12:45PM
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Sliderule wrote:

We have now waived two of our three UFA signings of 2011 and 12.

The other one Belanger they will either buyout or try waivers to find a fish.

It's a sad commentary of our management and pro scouting.

True no doubt. I kinda have some respect (cough, cough) for Tambi for waiving 2/3 of his summer signings that year. And the 3rd player (Belanger) is just as bad. He manned up and addmited his mistakes and moved on. Some GM's wouldnt have done that.

So is this bad on pro-scouting for approving the signings, or bad on the GM for making them? Or both need to be improved.

This does bod well for a removal of other failed experiments (Belanger, Habby, and to a lesser extend Smyth and Petrell.) Tamby just HAS to make better signings, but at least he's flushing the turds!

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#49 Quicksilver ballet
March 13 2013, 12:50PM
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There's sure a definate difference in the urgency/intensity in which Mike Brown plays with. It was noticeable from his very first shift as an Oiler. With that noticeable diffence in work ethic established in Brown (toronto maple leafs) it's clear why 3 out of every 4 nights the Oilers are still being outworked. The Oilers seem to have that urgency the first two weeks of the season, but things appear to have reverted back to last yrs efforts.

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#50 Thinker
March 13 2013, 12:51PM
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Why? He has to be worth something. Not disappointed in losing the player, but why do we give a third/ fourth rounder to get this type of player, but give an identical player away for free.

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