The Edmonton Oilers have placed veteran forward Ben Eager on waivers.
Oilers have put Ben Eager on waivers…. #NHL
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) March 13, 2013
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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