As expected, the Barons announced this afternoon that Eric Hunter has been reassigned to the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL. The versatile forward, who played wing and center in OKC, was a pretty viable option for the Barons in recent weeks. With Kristians Pelss absent from the second line due to injury, the Barons promoted Hunter into that spot in the lineup. And he played some hard minutes, alongside Toni Rajala who really benefitted from Hunter’s playmaking tendencies.
Although not a huge point snatcher (one goal, eleven games), he was able to protect some minor discrepancies on the ice whenRajala, and other newcomer, C.J. Stretch, hung themselves out to dry. And this alone made Hunter a really important defensive forward role player. Hard to find a stat for how useful that quality is in a callup.
He’ll be missed. He’ll be back. But with his departure comes two arrivals.
Ben Eager and Anton Lander will both be on the ice tomorrow night for the game against Rochester. Coach Nelson, via his radio show this evening, made it perfectly clear that both would play, and that Stretch will be the healthy scratch. And this has me pondering the direction of both players.
Hunter and Stretch have made up two thirds of the Barons most recent second line. I assumed that the team would elect to place Lander back on that line where he previously rolled with Pelss and Rajala. But with Pelss still recovering from a leg injury, will they consider giving Ben Eager the second line treatment? Maybe. But there’s also many pieces that could rightly fall into that space as well. Antti Tyrvainen, Curtis Hamilton, Dane Byers – all candidates. But fully realizing that there is a propensity for Coach Nelson to “please the boss” (which is how the cookie crumbles, so to speak) I wouldn’t be shocked to see Eager playing with Rajala and Lander. I’ve said it at least one hundred times this season – bizarre. Likely not the last time I write that word in 2013.