Based on what’s happened so far in training camp, it sounds like Ben Eager has a pretty decent shot at re-establishing himself as an NHL player with Edmonton this year.
The General Manager
Craig MacTavish was a guest on Oilers Now yesterday, and was asked by host Bob Stauffer whether the team might look to add some “meat” to the fourth line. Here’s how he replied:
Well, I’ll say that with the game Ben Eager played the other night in Vancouver it was certainly intriguing to me to see the extent and how quick he was closing gaps and how he was finishing checks and how determined he was. He’s opened the door for himself to try and get in there and find that spot. He was impressive, as was Mike Brown; I thought that line did what they needed to do – and Will Acton – and got their bangs in and it’s never going to be too too pretty with the puck but it doesn’t have to be. If those guys are going to give us that physical pop and put the pressure on the pucks and put a little bit of fear in the opposition’s defence they’ve got an opportunity. We’ll see what that looks like going forward if that continues.
Eager has made a splash since the first day of camp. It’s been widely reported that he’s down about 15 pounds from his playing weight last season, and he told the Edmonton Journal’s Joanne Ireland that last year’s stint in the minors was a turning point:
Going to the minors last year turned out be a great thing for me. I haven’t had that much fun playing hockey in three or four years. It was a great experience. We had a great bunch of guys down there. We won games down there and we had a deep (playoff) run. I’m a playoff-type player and I think I showed a lot of people that during the run. I played well … and I got my confidence back up.
If Ben Eager is at his best, the Oilers can use him. Edmonton could use a fourth line player who can hit and skate and score a bit, and that’s what Eager has done in the past for some very good teams. There isn’t really another guy close to NHL duty in the system with Eager’s combination of ability and physical play, so a motivated Eager always had a very good chance at landing a job. Based on what he’s said and what the general manager has said, he’s working his way on to that opening night roster.
And that’s good news for the Oilers. Eager’s skill level and past results greatly exceed those of a guy like Mike Brown (who pushed him off the roster last year) and he’s a better fit on a fourth line that can play.
Recently around the Nation Network
First, a quick reminder: StreakCred is free for the pre-season – sign up to win not only real money but also something far more valuable: NationGear.
Tyler Bozak is a lightning rod player in Toronto, but as Cam Charron points out, the problem with him is pretty simple:
[O]pponents do much better with him on the ice, and teammates fare slightly better off when they’re not on his side.
Click the link above to read more, or feel free to check out some of my recent stuff below: