I wrote an article over at ON after the game last night talking about possession players. I suspect that if we all took a #2 HB and wrote down our definition of a ‘possession player’ the answers would be similar–someone who can handle the puck, perhaps strong along the wall, someone like Ryan Smyth in his heyday or Taylor Hall since he landed.
I have a tendency to view things in black and white–dangerous thing, that. When you go through life doing it, there’s all kind of nuance and subtlety that passes you by. Also, when you argue a point without allowing for the possibility of being incorrect, it leaves you two options: admit you’re wrong after digging a hole or stubbornly defending a position that is not defensible.
Early this month, Tyler Dellow wrote a fascinating piece on Ben Eager and his shot differential (Corsi). It struck as an invaluable item because it cut through the verbal and used math and logic to deliver something that had more than two sides–Ben Eager has been good and bad and that is reflected by the quality of team he’s played for during the last several years. Makes sense, and yet the fan (me) looks at things in black and white, as in “Ben Eager has been disappointing.”
The summer Edmonton hired Eager, I wrote this about his role:
- Eager at 6 minutes a night and you’re happy. Right. 6 minutes a night, cut back on the penalties taken and let him agitate like an old time washing machine. I have him playing 9 minutes a night in the RE template because the coach will try him in several roles until he feels comfortable with him.
Eager ended the season playing 8 minutes a night, which is fine because they ended up buggering up Paajarvi and needed some extra minutes from him. In his two seasons with the Oilers, Eager’s CorsiON has been ghastly, but the guys he’s lining up with and the general quality of the team he’s on make that a predictable result.
WHAT TO DO?
MacT used to run some pretty good 4lines (Dowd with Devereaux and BG, Reasoner with Laraque had some great moments, Reasoner with Thoresen too) and I think Eakins has some nice options available. Boyd Gordon would be an outstanding 4C option in my opinion, Will Acton less so and Anton Lander might be someday. Among wingers available to the new coach, I think Jesse Joensuu or Ryan Smyth would be ideal but the depth chart will no doubt force them up the batting order this season. Ben Eager and Ryan Hamilton are the strongest current options, but Steve MacIntyre and Mike Brown are likely to get plenty of at bats if healthy.
And that’s where this weekend’s waiver/trade possibilities come in. There should be some terrific options available (hello, Detroit!) and the Oilers would be wise to grab one or more. There are better players available for the taking, and last night tells us that there’s plenty of room to grow.