To say Eager's first season with the Oilers was a bit of a let down would be an understatement... by measure it wouldn't be as extreme as say Belanger's disappointment but it was down there for the season.
I will fully admit that I liked the signing of Eager at the time, and questioned the redundancy of Hordichuk's signing (though there were merits). But to think after one season there would be a valid argument for moving Eager, and to resign Hordichuk would not have been feasible.
Eager was a player that this team desperately needed, size, good mobility, a bit of a scoring touch, sandpaper like qualites... and he fought. Essentially he was a move away from the norm of Oiler past and into the future of the NH, you know - players that can actually play the game. All markers were there for a good season.
What went wrong though? Well the Tulipov hit in the Joey Moss cup that lead to a concussion didn't help, and than he injured his back midway through the season. And I think it was easy to see that how he viewed his role, and how management viewed it differed. Maybe he was promised one thing, and delivered another, maybe not. Who knows?
The question going forward though is, How is he feeling? and How do you feel about the coaching change? A healthy motivated Eager is still a player type this team desperately needs, and a player type that doesn't always come up via trade or free agency.
Im all for keeping him for another season if the attitude is right - remember we heard rumblings of a locker room divide... we have know idea who was on what side. The point is we need people who want what the kids want - to win.
As for where he fits on the roster moving forward? Well I would say third line with Horcroff. We add a solid two way player for the right wing or someone impresses in camp playing an off side (Paajarvi or Hartikainen) and that leaves us with a very solid third line.
But if thats the case... where does that leave Smyth? Where indeed...