Ben Eager has been placed on Waivers this morning by the Edmonton Oilers. This is a move that I wasnt expecting, mainly because the Oilers Management normally takes the path of least resistance.
Eager is not a particularly effective Hockey player despite owning a set of tools that make him incredibly attractive to NHL teams. This toolbox is his greatest asset and the reason that so many teams have taken flyers on him.
Eager is Big. He stands 6’2″ and weighs a very heavy 236 lbs. In a league where everybody wants size, Eager brings it. In terms of size in relation to the rest of the Oilers, the Club lacks size so much that there was a point this season that some MSM guys (notably Mark Spector) were calling for the Oil to try Eager in the top 6 just so the young talent would find more room. Lets recap that, this player, who is so bad that the team will give him away for free, brings SO MUCH SIZE that men paid to comment on Hockey thought he should be featured in the lineup.
Eager is Fast. Ben Eager has wheels on him that would scare the living daylights out of Defenders. He isnt just fast for a big man, he is just plain old FAST. Combined with a 6’2″ 236 pound frame the vision of him flying up the ice to chase down puck destined for icing must have been absolutely terrifying for the opposition player also in that chase. There are small guys in the NHL who dont possess that speed.
Eager has Pedigree. Ben Eager was a 1st Round pick by the Phoenix Coyotes in 2002. He was taken 23rd Overall. Taken two spots AFTER him? Cam Ward. General Managers love 1st round picks like fat kids love Bear Claws. These guys get chance after chance after chance. Eager himself is a poster boy for this love of 1st rounders. Counting the team that drafted him, Eager is on his 6th Franchise.
Eager is Tough. Maybe I should say, Eager WAS Tough before concussions derailed this aspect of his game. However, in his history this used to be a major asset. As an Oiler Eager has suffered at least 2 major Concussions. 1 in training camp last year on a hit from minor leaguer Kirill Tulupov and one this year in a fight with Zack Kassian. Kassian absolutely crushed Eager with a few right hands. Since the last fight in particular Eager’s willingness to fight has dropped to Robert Nilsson levels. Before these injuries Eager could be counted on to throw them when needed because he played on the edge. In 2006-2007 Ben Eager played in only 63 games but logged 233 PIM. That number was the highest in the NHL by almost 50 PIM!
Despite that toolbox Ben Eager never really developed into a very good hockey player. The Oilers are comically outshot with him on the ice and without fighting majors he is still racking up bad penalties. He doesnt score (2 points in 14 games) either. And with the addition of Mike Brown, a man willing to fight and capable of playing in his own zone, Ben Eager has found himself out of a job. The only other option to make space on the roster would be to send down someone like Paajarvi who isnt Waiver elligible. Considering the recent good play of 91, that would have been a very poor choice.
For Jonathan Willis’ take on the Eager Waiving CLICK HERE