Should the Blackhawks Bring Back Ben Eager?

Yahoo! Sports is indicating that Ben Eager, currently serving a four-game suspension for sucker punching Toronto’s Colby Armstrong, could be on the way out of Atlanta.

In 34 games this season, Eager has 10 points (three goals, seven assists), 48 hits and 77 penalty minutes while skating 12:15 per game. He is playing on a one-year deal and will become an unrestricted free agent this summer; he has a $965k cap number.

Most of Eager’s statistics are well on their way to him having the most productive season of his career. He established career highs in points (16) last year and ice time average (8:31) in the 2008-09 season.

Should the Blackhawks bring Eager back to the United Center?

Chicago is well aware of how volatile Eager can be, and enjoyed that part of his game for most of the first 255 games of his career. And at the price, he could be an affordable piece that could bring an up-tempo, physical force back into the lineup on a regular basis for the remainder of the season. His offensive abilities are significantly greater than John Scott, the current pair of rented fists on teroster, and his knowledge of the veterans on the team could help him assimilate quickly.

The deal could be simple for the Blackhawks: Jack Skille for Eager straight up. While Eager’s cap number is less than $400k more for the entire season, the difference for the final 30 games would be well within the Hawks cap space.

Skille has struggled to find a niche in the Hawks lineup, and his production is very close to Eager’s so far this year. He has 14 points (six goals, eight assists), 79 hits and is averaging 11:08 on ice per game. He has, however, taken 104 shots to Eager’s 41, while only producing four extra points.

Atlanta could be easily sold on the deal. Skille will be a restricted free agent after the season, giving the Thrashers better potential control or the potential for compensation if Skille signs elsewhere. He is also younger, and Thrashers GM Rick Dudley is familiar with Skille from his days in Chicago.

For the Blackhawks, the deal would bring a physical player into the lineup that would know his role but, unlike Scott, brings the potential for offense.

Eager was traded to Atlanta last summer in the deal that also sent Dustin Byfuglien and Brent Sopel to the Thrashers for a package including top prospect Jeremy Morin.

5 thoughts on “Should the Blackhawks Bring Back Ben Eager?

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  • January 12, 2011 at 2:42 am

    Eager is toast. Bring back Big Buf….stupid move getting rid of him in the 1st place.

  • January 12, 2011 at 9:04 am

    NO, hes a hit to the head away from being a vegetable

  • January 12, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    I think everyone has to shut up about buff we can’t afford him…the faster u know this the faster the hockey world stops lookin at chicago fans as idiots… Bringing eager back is a good move…not sayin the cup is comin back to chicago cuz of him but it brings a spark to the team…he has a wiked shot. He’s aggressive and a fast skater….an ok fighter but he never thinks twice on stickin up for our stars….sign him now

  • January 13, 2011 at 2:05 am

    If you’re still whining about Byfuglien, you’re an idiot.

    Byfuglien wasn’t playing up to his cap number as a forward. He was a year away from free agency, and the Hawks presumed that he would be too costly to keep.

    Those are the reasons why he was dealt. Do you want to pay 3.5M for 34 points and a -7, or would you rather have Patrick Sharp?

    Byfuglien is having a monster year as a different position where he is getting top pair minutes and outperforming everyone in the Hawks’ defensive corps. Had his contract situation been the same as, say, Hjalmarsson’s, and if Stan Bowman had a crystal ball on his desk, he may still be here.

    If the Hawks play 60 minutes the way they are capable, they can skate with and beat anyone. That they’re not showing up to play three periods a night has nothing to do with Dustin Byfuglien—after all, he took whole games off last season.

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