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
- 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.
- How much? Eager played 8:29 a night in 11-12, I have him at 7 minutes a night in this model.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.