2010 NHL free agency: Thrashers avoid arbitration, sign Ben Eager

beneager1.jpgScratch another potential arbitration hearing off the docket in Toronto. The Atlanta Thrashers have reached a contract agreement with one of the players they received in the Dustin Byfuglien trade in Ben Eager as TSN tells us.

Forward Ben Eager avoided arbitration on Wednesday, agreeing to a negotiated settlement on a one-year deal with the Atlanta Thrashers at $965,000.

The restricted free agent put up seven goals and nine assists with a plus- 16 rating over 60 games with the Blackhawks last season.

Perhaps the biggest part of Eager’s game is being a physically intimidating beast on the ice. Standing at 6’2″ 230 pounds, Eager’s last two seasons in the NHL Chicago saw him pile up the penalty minutes like an animal foraging for food for the winter. Last year saw Eager average a minor penalty per game locking down 120 PIMs in those 60 games. The year before he had 161 PIM in 75 games. All of that pales in comparison to what he did with the Flyers in 2006-2007 racking up a league-high 233 PIMs. That’s Zenon Konopka territory right there.

Of course, Eager has somewhat (and I say this hesitantly) mellowed out his game to be more of helpful physical presence on the ice, as was exhibited during the playoffs with the Blackhawks last season scoring one goal and adding two assists and just 20 PIMs in 18 playoff games. Eager likely takes the enforcer job away from from Eric Boulton in Atlanta.

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    Hellebuyck debuts with victory as Jets best Wild

    Connor Hellebuyck
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    ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Dustin Byfuglien had a goal and assist, Connor Hellebuyck made 14 saves to win his NHL debut and the Winnipeg Jets spoiled left winger Zach Parise‘s return from a knee injury by beating the Minnesota Wild 3-1 on Friday.

    Mathieu Perreault added his second goal in two games and Nikolaj Ehlers‘ goal late in the third put the game away.

    The Jets won on the road for the first time in their last seven tries and for just the third time in their last 11 games.

    Ryan Carter scored for Minnesota, finally getting a shot past Hellebuyck that made it 2-1 midway through the third period.

    Hellebuyck was college hockey’s top goalie in 2013-14 and the goaltender on the U.S. team that won a bronze medal in the 2015 world championships.

    Minnesota finished with a season-low 15 shots, which was also a season low in shots allowed for the Jets.

    Wild fans at the Xcel Energy Center let out a roar when it was announced before the game that Parise would start, but not even his return could spark Minnesota.

    After Jason Zucker was whistled for an elbowing penalty behind the net, Perreault took a pass from Byfuglien and zipped it past Devan Dubnyk to give Winnipeg a 1-0 lead with 3:34 left in the second period.

    Byfuglien made it 2-0 early in the third when his odd-angle shot hit Dubnyk in the back of the skate and went in for his seventh goal.

    Carter’s goal bounced off of Winnipeg defenseman Mark Stuart and past Hellebuyck to give Minnesota some momentum.

    The rookie didn’t get rattled, however, stopping a big shot from Jason Pominville with 3:11 to play.

    Just 11 seconds later, Ehlers got loose on a breakaway and put the game away.

    Winnipeg’s defense came into the game ranked 29th in goals allowed, but had little problem preventing Minnesota from generating quality scoring chances.

    The Wild have just one win in their last six games. Parise was Minnesota’s leading scorer when he sprained a knee ligament on Nov. 5.

    NOTES: Wild F Justin Fontaine missed his 11th game with a sprained MCL, but has a chance to return for Saturday’s game against Dallas according to coach Mike Yeo. … The Wild went 4-3-1 without Parise. … Jets RW Blake Wheeler had an assist and now has points in 18 of 24 games.

    Blackhawks baffle Ducks with late magic; Kane’s streak at 18 games

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    The Chicago Blackhawks may not be at peak-level right now, but they’re still a tough team to finish off.

    For most of Friday’s game, it seemed like the story would be about John Gibson possibly elbowing into the Anaheim Ducks’ No. 1 role, continuing that franchise carousel.

    Instead, it was about yet another tremendous comeback for Chicago, as the Blackhawks scored two goals in the final two minutes of the third period to erase a 2-0 deficit. Artem Anisimov than scored the OT GWG.

    Stunning stuff … though definitely not unprecedented.

    With less than 30 seconds remaining, Patrick Kane grabbed an assist on Duncan Keith‘s 2-2 goal. Kane extended his point streak to 18 games, tying a record for America-born players.

    For the Ducks, it’s yet another gut punch, one that makes you wonder how they’d fare in another playoff series against Chicago (if they can even get there … a big if).

    Bruce Boudreau is bummed:

    Tyler Johnson’s injury: One of several ominous signs for Tampa Bay

    Carl Gunnarsson, Tyler Johnson
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    The gloom only seems to lift from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s cloudy season in small drizzles.

    Sure, they’re on a three-game winning streak, but the Washington Capitals seem to be on the verge of ending that with a thud (they’re currently up 3-0 going into the third period).

    Update: Washington managed a 4-2 win, giving the Capitals a four-game winning streak.

    That’s the least of the Bolts’ concerns right now, really, as Tyler Johnson left Friday’s game seemingly injured.

    The word seemingly comes into play because details are scarce, as reporters note.

    /ominous music plays

    If you look at Tampa Bay’s upcoming schedule, things could get downright stormy.

    They face the Islanders at home, but they do so tomorrow so they won’t be well-rested. It gets worse from there.

    Dec. 2 – 6: Three-game road trip against the California teams

    Dec. 10 – 12: Two home games (one vs. Ottawa, one vs. Washington)

    Dec. 14-18: Another three-game road trip

    Long story short, they close up a back-to-back set at home tomorrow and then play six of eight on the road.

    /even more ominous music

    The end of 2015 looks friendlier, but for a team that seems to be cratering here and there … things look a bit morbid.

    We’ll see if they can keep fighting, perhaps with a comeback tonight?

    The ghost is here: Another OT-winner from Flyers’ Gostisbehere

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    Here’s an easy way to remember how to spell Shayne Gostisbehere’s maddening last name (and even his first name can trip you up).

    Ghost-is-be-here, without the h.

    Not too bad, right?

    If you’re more of the slogan type, it’s getting to be the point where “Tough to spell, tougher to stop” may be a pretty good one-liner.

    The Philadelphia Flyers phenom has made a habit of scoring overtime game-winning goals on the power play lately. Friday’s version was the decisive tally in a 3-2 OT win against the Nashville Predators, which you can watch up top.

    As you can see in comparing that goal with the one below (which made the difference against the Carolina Hurricanes), opposing coaches may want to make it a point to emphasize stopping this setup, even if it means writing “Don’t let that Ghost kid free.”

    All three of his goals are on the power play so far.

    Will he breathe life back into the Flyers’ man advantage at this rate?