RE 12-13: BEN EAGER

Ben Eager was hired to bring truculence and toughness to the Edmonton Oilers. One year into his contract, many would suggest that Eager didn’t deliver the needed brawn.

RE 12-13: 50, 4-4-8

  1. He’ll score more than 4 goals. I’ve reduced Eager’s playing time and GP quite a bit from last season, I just don’t think he’s going to play that much even in games they’ve dressed him.
  2. How much? Eager played 8:29 a night in 11-12, I have him at 7 minutes a night in this model.
  3. So he’s down across the board? All but PIMs and majors. Eager had 5 majors and 3 ‘others’ this past season, suspect both of those numbers will trend upwards.
  4. And minors? Oh sure. We’ll talk more when we get to the defenders but Edmonton will have an uptick in fights and penalties this coming season.
  5. Why do you feel this way? Partly because of a conversation Jason Gregor had with Darcy Hordichuk in which the enforcer said “And that’s why I chose to re-sign; because I think that you don’t have to be an idiot out there, or be a donkey but as the season goes on and guys are starting to get run a little more you have to kind of draw the line somewhere early in the season so that guys know this is what you’re up against if it happens. If that means taking a suspension then I’m willing to do that.”
  6. What does that mean? There were times last season when the Oilers kids were getting abused and the team as a group didn’t have a response. Eager himself was on the ice but unaware in Columbus late March when Jared Boll ran the Nuge, and the Oiler response when Paajarvi was kneed by Scott Hartnell was also tepid.
  7. So now you want a goon? No, but I do believe that the Oilers were intimidated at times last season and that the club will take steps to have a deterrent. A strong PP is the best option, but they’ll be tougher and that means Eager and Hordichuk in games 12-13.
  8. You want Eager AND Hordichuk on the 4line? I don’t think we’ll see that very much but the Oilers will have more of an edge under Krueger based on what Hordichuk told Gregor.
  9. Will this be a drastic change? I think it will change the 4line usage. I can see games where they dress Belanger-Eager-Paajarvi and we see Hall double shifted on that line while Eager (or Hordichuk) sits. We saw that last year, but imo we’ll see a spike. That’s one of the things I got from the Friedman-Krueger conversation.
  10. What else? The Oilers put other teams off their intimidation early in the season by scoring 5×4 but when the refs put the whistles away later on it got a little crazy. I’d like to see Paajarvi defend himself a little better (as an example), maybe get his stick up on Hartnell on a play like that. It’ll get him some penalty minutes but it’ll also help him survive.
  11. You’re mad about the injuries to the kids? As I recall, most of the injuries to the kids were of the fluke variety, with the pigheaded injuries (Fedun, Gilbert) going to defenders. There were some headhunting hits (I recall a Sarich hit to Hall) but I think the Oilers feel they were intimidated at times during the year.
  12. So they’re going to ‘announce their presence with authority’ this year? I’ve long felt that the Oilers should get rid of enforcers and find players, or at least hire a guy like Georges Laraque who could cycle down low and keep the puck far from his net. The organization believes toughness is an issue, so we’ll see more of it in my opinion.
  13. Great coaches don’t use intimidation. Well that’s crap, Fred Shero was the king in this regard and that guy changed the game in many, many ways.
  14. What exactly are you advocating? I’m talking about what the Oilers will do. My 4th line would be Belanger-Hartikainen-Paajarvi, so it isn’t my plan we’re talking about here.
  15. Do you think Eager can play with skilled men? I thought he might be able to a year ago, at least sometimes. But watching him fumble passes for a season cured me.
  16. Do you dislike Eager as a player? I find him frustrating. He has size, terrific speed and should be able to do all kinds of things. But he can’t catch a pass, which is fundamental to successful sorties into the defensive zone. It’s such a basic skill but if you don’t have it you don’t have it.

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65 Responses to "RE 12-13: BEN EAGER"

  1. mumbai max says:

    Eager to be first

  2. mumbai max says:

    Not sure why?

  3. jfry says:

    This should be a fun thread. Cue traktor with eager’s top ranked pts/60. We’ll probably end up talking about Brule and Jones here too.

    Eager didn’t bring the crazy last year which is what dissapointed me the most. I was hoping for a suspension filled season that showed he was a loose cannon and would do anything to intimidate. Instead he played like jfj to some extent

  4. buster says:

    I had high hopes for Eager when we signed him as my mental picture was of a bruiser flying all over the ice while other teams argued on their bench on who had to go out and play against this guy with a loose screw. Then clearly on the plane ride here that screw fell right out and we ended up with an ostrich brained pouter who wouldn’t lift his cement hands to defend our actual hockey players. If Kruger can fix the mess called Ben then we can expect water being turned into wine.

  5. jfry says:

    It would probably solve everything if we just moved big Ben to centre ;-)

  6. Lowetide says:

    I didn’t mention but wonder about the concussion. He never seemed to be the player we saw going against EDM in the past.

  7. art vandelay says:

    Does Ben Eager belong in the NHL? No.

  8. franksterra says:

    Lay lady lay

  9. Blackbyrd says:

    Watching him for most of a season, I’ve rarely, if ever, found a player more frustrating than Eager.

    He’s a five-tool player, IMO, and you can certainly see why he was a first round pick: size, terrific straight-line speed with above average overall skating, a good, hard shot, and he hits hard. At times he looks like he should be able to be that mythical power forward that we’re perpetually searching for. What’s missing, unfortunately, is between the ears. Poor situational awareness, decision making, vision, creativity, and he as was mentioned, zero finesse as he struggles to make or take a pass in stride. He’s like the anti-Gagner: all tools, no intangibles. Gagner’s got the brains, but sub-par tools, and manages to be the far, far more effective hockey player.

  10. jfry says:

    Lt, O’Sullivan was the same way. Horrible in the blue and orange but lit us up prior to that. Our pro scoutingseems to have a lot of “saw him good against us”

  11. spoiler says:

    Only took 70 holes for this Open Championship to get somewhat interesting.

  12. bookje says:

    Krueger will fix.

  13. spoiler says:

    Oh my.

  14. Lowetide says:

    I’ve been rooting for Scott all day but Ernie’s an all time favorite I didn’t think could get it done. What a delightful open!

  15. spoiler says:

    We have a ball game.

  16. spoiler says:

    Tiger’s gonna be a dead ringer for Fred Sanford in about 10 years.

  17. Lowetide says:

    lol. Now I can’t look at Tiger without laughing.

  18. fuzzy muppet says:

    This is gonna be one hell of an 18th hole…

  19. fuzzy muppet says:

    ouch. Ernie looks good now

  20. spoiler says:

    Wow, Ernie might win this without a playoff.

  21. Lowetide says:

    Els has lost a few heartbreakers over the years, golf Gods might be giving one back today.

  22. spoiler says:

    From that angle it looks like the Germans bombed the daylights out of the 18th. Holy Bunkers.

  23. jp says:

    That Gregor article was very interesting – lots of insight into the team. I think I skipped reading it initially because of my apathy for the Hordicuk re-signing. If anyone else missed it, it’s definitely worth a look.

    Is there anyone that Kruger doesn’t have an amazing repore with? Still not sure he can “fix” Eager, but you never know.

  24. fuzzy muppet says:

    No pressure Adam…10 feet for a playoff

  25. spoiler says:

    Heartbreaker.

    Ernie has really battled this year. And as LT says, has had his fair share of disappointments over the years. Nice to see him get another major at his age.

  26. bookje says:

    What is going on here? Golf? I have to do something to save the blog!

    Ryan Smyth is washed up.

    khabibulin is good enough to lead this team for the next three years.

    The Oilers should give Laroque a contract.

    The Oilers should have hired Bucky to coach, as a former Boy on The Bus, he understands what it takes to be a champion in this city!

  27. SinceTheWHADays says:

    Hey. I’ve been reading here all summer. Thought I might start putting my $.02 in.
    Lets ask ourselves 1. Will BE help us win more games? 2. Does BE take up valuable roster space? 3. Is BE redundant with the likes of Hordichuck on the roster. 4. Can a D-Man, such as Peckham, make BE even more redundant and would said D-Man enable the Oil to support 2 intimidators/ game instead of switching forwards all season. 5. If any of the
    above makes sense, how do the Oil rid themselves of BE?
    Given that Tambo is somewhat of a ditherer, and often
    makes decisions that lack sence, why can we fans expect
    anything different from BE, than what we saw last season?

  28. spoiler says:

    I think Ben Eager was intended to be our Big Easy.

  29. gogliano says:

    Eager is kind of like a rich man’s JFJ. Which is kind of like a poor man’s NHL hockey player.

  30. franksterra says:

    gogliano:
    Eager is kind of like a rich man’s JFJ.Which is kind of like a poor man’s NHL hockey player.

    christ that’s chiilingly accurate

  31. Bar_Qu says:

    Ben Eager is 4th line player. He will deliver the <10 min a game necessary, always be a negative Corsi and simply be there to give better players a breather. That said, if he can up the intensity of his hitting (based on "who knows" metric) and act as an occasional wingman for better players, opening up space for say PRV, then he covers his value to the team.

    I don't think he necessarily needs to introduce crazy to his game (or re-introduce, I should say) but certainly making a defender look over his shoulder going back into the zone for a dump in can't hurt.

    The simple fact is that most 4th liners look bad when you examine their numbers, but when the team around them plays better, the warts of the 4th liners get covered up and their strengths come out. If the Oilers can let Ben skate hard and put up the occasional point, no one will notice the puck starts and finishes in his end on most shifts.

  32. Lowetide says:

    The Oilers 11-12 4th line was stupidly beyond awful. It was stawful. Jim Dowd’s 4th line on the other hand was golden.

  33. Dave Casselman says:

    Kind of hoping that Ben just had an ‘off’ year;I have to believe that no one is more disappointed than him.
    We need to see more of the ‘crazy,’ Ben, the unpredictable Ben that would rather go through you than around you. And, I surely hope he practised the summer away receiving passes because I think it’d make a big difference.
    In Ralph We Trust – If RK can’t bring him round, he’s not roundable.

  34. matt says:

    What was up with the refs putting their whistles away? That can’t have been coincidence. Any intel on that? And will it change given the first couple rounds of the playoffs? How much will the Eager and Hordichuk roles pivot on some October navel gazing and reffing instructions?

  35. Lowetide says:

    Matt: NHL won’t say, but PP’s were down in a big way after the AS break iirc. As for Eager/Hordichuk usage, I think they’ll be used consistently throughout the season.

  36. OilLeak says:

    Bar_Qu:
    Ben Eager is 4th line player. He will deliver the <10 min a game necessary, always be a negative Corsi and simply be there to give better players a breather.

    Stop me if this sounds crazy, but perhaps the Oilers should substitute useful NHL players in place of the “Puck is a Grenade” type players in the relief of the top 3 lines. Maybe this team will then improve beyond the lottery position.

    Nah, too crazy. Forget I said anything.

  37. Lucinius says:

    The whistles got put away because the Oilers finally had a power play of note, naturally.

    Tambellini and Batman wanted another high pick so they called the league and let them know that they needed help because our PP success was risking it.

    Or, its just the curse of being an Oiler fan. Our team gets really good at something; the universe moves to ameliorate it. We are not allowed to bask in such things. Its cosmic balancing of the 80s.

    Or it could simply be that the refs are shitty.

  38. Bar_Qu says:

    OilLeak,

    Not that i disagree with you, but this is the Oilers. Not only did they sign TWO of this type of player, but they have been drafting them by the handful. If he’s on the roster, use him effectively.

  39. OilClog says:

    Eager was derailed by the Russian concussion. He never looked recovered from it at any point last season. Was not the Eager everyone use to see play, I really hope he can overcome the injury. He can be one hell of a player and a favorite if he can get pass the concussion. It’s going to be very difficult though.

  40. Ribs says:

    jfry: This should be a fun thread. Cue traktor with eager’s top ranked pts/60. We’ll probably end up talking about Brule and Jones here too.

    Sadly, it’s better than farts from the last thread.

    Purely speculating, but I think Big Ben needs to find some friends on this team for him to be truly effective. I don’t know what his personal life is like but i haven’t heard much about how he is in the room or away from it from the other players too much so far. It’s so much easier to go to war for a guy if he’s truly someone you can call your friend. Can we somehow combine Hordichuk and Eager into one person? Katz? Get on it.

  41. dessert1111 says:

    If Eager could play a whole season like he plays at his best I think he’s a wonderful 4th line player that can be slotted up a line if need be. Unfortunately I think he’s one of the most inconsistent Oilers, and when he’s bad, he really is bad. If he can turn it around, awesome, but at this point he’s my preferred forward to trade. I’d rather Pajaarvi and Hartikainen make it out of main camp to fill out lines three and four and send Eager packing.

  42. jp says:

    Ribs:

    Can we somehow combine Hordichuk and Eager into one person? Katz? Get on it.

    A brain for Eager
    A heart for Belanger
    Courage for PRV

    Also some wheels for Plante, eternal youth for Smyth, and some hands for Marchant while you’re at it.

  43. admiralmark says:

    OilClog,

    Funny thing is Tulupov did to Eager what we want Eager to do nightly. And Tulupov continued to deliver in OKC. Maybe Tulupov should come up and show him how its done?

  44. Semenko and Troy says:

    Eager’s primary role on this team is to protect the kids. He can do this directly, such as in the failed Boll incident, or indirectly by engaging (legally or illegally) other team’s talent knowing the hurt he has to accept as a consequence.

    I have not broken down his fights from last season, but I would wager they occurred because of something done to him, not his teammates.

    Until Eager realizes the young talents are more important to the team than he is, and is willing to initiate or even react given his role, he’s a huge fail.

  45. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Semenko and Troy: I have not broken down his fights from last season, but I would wager they occurred because of something done to him, not his teammates.

    I’m seeing the exact same thing you’re seeing, Semenko and Troy (love that handle, did you sit in the old Section 2?)

    In fact I did review Oilers’ fights last year and mentioned that in my review of Eager’s season over at Cult of Hockey. Here’s the relevant paragraph.

    “As far as being a deterrent, there was precious little evidence of it. In researching my upcoming season-in-review pieces (my next one is on Darcy Hordichuk) I took an hour out of my life this weekend to review every one of the Oilers’ 27 scraps from this past season on the popup-infested hockeyfights.com. Whereas occasional scrappers like Theo Peckham, Lennart Petrell or even Sam Gagner were seen dropping the mitts to go to bat for a fallen teammate, Eager’s tilts seemed to be absolutely random in nature. Nothing wrong with fighting your own battles, I suppose, and the likelihood of Eager being on the ice at any point that an opponent was taking a run at one of Oilers’ young stars was slim, but it all seemed kind of pointless and not very team-oriented at all.”

    Occasional instigator, sure. Enforcer? Not at all.

  46. Semenko and Troy says:

    Bruce McCurdy,

    I don’t know if it was Section 2, but in the WHA years I had access to seats right behind the penalty box at ice level, then my own up in the blues when the team joined the NHL.

    Witnessed some great tilts.

    You couldn’t help but get excited when Sather would line up Semenko and Troy with a little guy like Randy Rota or Rusty Patenaude at center (if my memory serves me) for the opening face-off against players like Bad News Bilodeau and Steve Durbano.

    Good times.

  47. Reg Dunlop says:

    Semenko and Troy,

    We want Semenko, we want Troy, come on Sather, put out the boys. Does anyone remember the Birmingham Bulls? They didn’t get pucks in the pre-game warm-up because Frank ‘Never’ Beaton and Dave Hanson would shoot the pucks at the crowd.

    Regarding Eager, he went from ‘very’ Eager to ‘gentle’Ben. I couldn’t have been more disappointed, but some of the blame falls at Renney. He has until the trade deadline to prove his worth. or until Ebs or RNH get worked on Eager’s watch.

  48. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Semenko and Troy:
    Bruce McCurdy,

    I don’t know if it was Section 2, but in the WHA yearsI had access to seats right behind the penalty box at ice level, then my own up in the blues when the team joined the NHL.

    Witnessed some great tilts.

    You couldn’t help but get excited when Sather would line up Semenko and Troy with a little guy like Randy Rota or Rusty Patenaude at center (if my memory serves me) for the opening face-off against players like Bad News Bilodeau and Steve Durbano.

    Good times.

    There was a whole group that sat up in Section 2 (currently Section 202 I believe) that had lots of signs back in the day when fans were allowed to express themsleves rather than being told when and what to cheer. That 1977-78 season that Jamie Troy was an Oiler was my first as a season ticket holder (Section E), and when the game got dull the gang up in Section 2 would start chanting “We want Semenko! We want Troy! Come on, Sather, put out the boys!”

  49. Bruce McCurdy says:

    haha, Reg Dunlop (another great handle) we both quoted the same chant from 35 years ago at exactly 4:36 pm. Word for word, how’s that for corroboration?

  50. Lowetide says:

    Wonderful stuff, guys. Thanks for sharing those great memories.

  51. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Reg Dunlop,

    Reg Dunlop: Frank ‘Never’ Beaton

    Haha, Frank “Never” Beaton. He used to be an Oiler before he was a Bull. I remember the time he returned from an eastern road trip with a couple of souvenirs — a shiner, and a new nickname. Frank “Seldom” Beaton.

  52. Bruce McCurdy says:

    That organ music is golden.

  53. "Steve Smith" says:

    Lowetide,

    Remind me again why shrinking goalie pads wouldn’t improve the game?

  54. PaperDesigner says:

    “Steve Smith”:
    Lowetide,

    Remind me again why shrinking goalie pads wouldn’t improve the game?

    Because it’s common knowledge that fans really love defensive minded 1-1 games that are ended with shoot-outs.

    Apparently they’re trying to attract the soccer fan crowd.

  55. Lowetide says:

    “Steve Smith”:
    Lowetide,

    Remind me again why shrinking goalie pads wouldn’t improve the game?

    They really do change the game. Even with the superior coaching, stopping pucks with those pads would be a screaming difficult chore.

  56. sliderule says:

    Just make the nets four inches wider and all those three or four goal posts they hit in a lot of games would go in.
    The four inches would make up for the pads and super sized chest protectors.Even the giraffe legged butterfly masters might not cover post to post and they might have to stand up and move.
    Wouldn’t be wonderful to see seven six games like the glory years?

  57. stevezie says:

    I don’t think they’ll ever seriously shrink goalie equipment for safety/liability reasons. After years of resisting, I am ready to consider embiggening the nets.

    I used to think that higher scoring was a false target, that what we really wanted was better play. Then I saw the Gagner 8 pointer, and the entire Pens-Glyers series, and am now a firm believer in doing whatever we can to make goalies worse.

    Can anyone think of a realistic way to ban goalie coaches?

  58. velo says:

    What about going back to wood sticks? Baseball has bat standards and, apart from the odd corking incident, players either have a sweet stroke or they don’t. I never understood why it was open season to create any type of stick possible. Of course goalies need ridiculous pads when everyone can shoot bullets.

  59. PaperDesigner says:

    stevezie:
    I don’t think they’ll ever seriously shrink goalie equipment for safety/liability reasons. After years of resisting, I am ready to consider embiggening the nets.

    I used to think that higher scoring was a false target, that what we really wanted was better play. Then I saw the Gagner 8 pointer, and the entire Pens-Glyers series, and am now a firm believer in doing whatever we can to make goalies worse.

    Can anyone think of a realistic way to ban goalie coaches?

    We need more net. In most positions, the improvement of one group is offset by the improvement of another. But with goalies? They’re essentially competing with each other to shrink a finite amount of inches available to shooters. Their ability to shrink those is clearly far easier than NHL players trying to thread the needle with a puck.

    Those nets were designed for smaller people using smaller equipment. The NHL not expanding net size by now is aggravating. If they are serious about growing the game, they have to do it eventually.

  60. commonfan14 says:

    stevezie: After years of resisting, I am ready to consider embiggening the nets.

    Sounds like a perfectly cromulent idea to me.

  61. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    rickithebear,

    Excuse the squish comment about to come…

    I’m almost completely ambivalent on Eager. I alternate between seeing what Ricki sees in Eager and what everyone else sees when I watch him.

    The guy is still in the “shows promise” category… which makes you wonder if he just hasn’t been given the opportunity, or he hasn’t grasped it… at any rate… he’s well past his prospect days and I figure he’s going to have to earn every second of TOI going forward.

  62. Dalton says:

    buster:
    I had high hopes for Eager when we signed him as my mental picture was of a bruiser flying all over the ice while other teams argued on their bench on who had to go out and play against this guy with a loose screw. Then clearly on the plane ride here that screw fell right out and we ended up with an ostrich brained pouter who wouldn’t lift his cement hands to defend our actual hockey players. If Kruger can fix the mess called Ben then we can expect water being turned into wine.

    Ben Eager? More like Ben Chimplease.

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