The Oilers dipped into the free agent pool, and signed gritty veteran forward Ben Eager to a three-year deal, at a reported $1.1 million cap hit today. Eager is tenacious, at times unpredictable, and he’s popular with the ladies in Vancouver; at least the one who flashed him during the playoffs.
Eager was a solid contributor for the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in 2010. He won’t play a lot of minutes, and he won’t give you loads of offence, but he will play hard and inject some energy into a rather soft Oilers lineup.
Before you get concerned and think that Colin Fraser was also a former Hawk, keep in mind that Eager played 18 games for the Hawks in their Cup run, while Fraser only played in three. Eager averages a goal every nine or ten games, so look for him to pot seven or eight goals/season.
Eager will be a 4th liner.
His signing won’t make the Oilers an instant contender, but his robust play will allow Tom Renney to play him more than JF Jacques or Steve MacIntyre. Renney will be able to throw his 4th line over the boards more consistently, and if the Oilers are sleepwalking through a game, he now has a player who could change the momentum of a game in the Oilers favour with his physical style.
For the past few years we’ve seen how a good shift, or a goal, can suddenly spark the Oilers. The problem is they haven’t had a player who could sway the momentum with a good forecheck or a spirited spur-of-the-moment fight.
Eager won’t get them into the playoffs by himself, but he knows his role, and he will play it consistently. He will take the odd undisciplined penalty, but when you play on the edge you have to expect that.
This is a good signing, and at the very least he will make the Canucks/Oilers rivalry a little more exciting.
UFA SIGNINGS THOUGHTS
- Watching the ridiculous money being thrown around, I never want to hear owners complain about CBA. If you can’t control yourself then don’t whine to fans that you are losing money. I have ZERO sympathy for them.
- What is going in Colorado? They trade Craig Anderson, because he wanted too much money, and now they acquire Semyon Varlamov for a 1st rounder in 2012 and a 2nd rounder in 2012 or 2013. Varlamov was going to leave the Caps, why would Greg Sherman give up that much? That is a ballsy/insane move.
- After seeing Varlamov’s value, I bet Mike Gillis is licking his chops waiting to see what he’ll get for Corey Schneider.
- You can never say Paul Holmgren doesn’t take risks. He makes two blockbuster deals last week, shipping Jeff Carter to Columbus and Mike Richards to LA, and today he signs Jaromir Jagr for $3.3 million for one year. Pens fans will be livid. They wanted JJ back in Pittsburgh, but he clearly went for the money. The Pens/Flyers rivalry just got even better.
- James Wisniewski gets $33 million over six years for one good season. He had 51 points last year between the Islanders and Habs. I know Scott Howson is under pressure to win now, but $5.5 million for a guy who has had more than seven goals and 30 points ONCE in his career. Wow. I think Wisniewski will be good, but he’ll be hard-pressed to play up to those numbers.
- Interesting to see that the Leafs, Rangers and Kings haven’t made a signing yet. I wonder if the two, or all three, if Buffalo lands him, have a backup plan?