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Edmonton Oilers sign free agent forward Ben Eager and defenceman Cam Barker

EDMONTON - A three-year deal for Ben Eager highlighted a busy first day of free agency for the Edmonton Oilers.

Edmonton signed the six-foot-two, 235-pound forward Friday for US$3.3 million after Eager scored seven goals and 17 points last season.

"I've been mostly on one-year deals lately, so I was looking to join a team, get that security and be part of things for the future," Eager explained. "I don't know if there's a better team to look at with as much upside as the Oilers right now. It's a great team that's on the rise.

"It will be an exciting atmosphere coming to the rink every day. We're going to be a tough team to play against."

The Oilers also signed centre Eric Belanger to a three-year deal, defenceman Cam Barker to a $2.25-million, two-year contract and forward Darcy Hordichuk to a one-year deal.

Belanger said his agent fielded calls from a large number of teams but he eventually settled on the Oilers.

"My final choice was to go with the Oilers for security and an up-and-coming young team. I'm excited about the opportunity," Belanger said.

Tambellini said the Oilers picked up a versatile player.

"He presents intelligence. He does well on face-offs, something that we desperately needed. He has an ability to play with good players. He can move the puck, make a play. He's always been able to do that," said Tambellini.

"(Head coach) Tom (Renney) can use him in a lot of different situations."

Edmonton later added some experience to its blue-line by trading defenceman Kurtis Foster to Anaheim for veteran Andy Sutton.

Eager, 27, was drafted 23rd overall by Phoenix in 2002. He has 34 goals and 35 assists in 323 games with Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta and San Jose.

He also won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2010.

Belanger, 33, had 13 goals and 27 assists in 82 games with the Coyotes last season. The 6-0, 185-pounder has 134 goals and 205 assists in 716 career games with Los Angeles, Carolina, Atlanta, Minnesota, Phoenix and Washington.

Barker, 25, had one goal and four assists in 52 games with Minnesota last season. The Wild bought out Barker on Friday and will pay him $900,000 over two seasons.

The 6-3, 215-pound blue-liner 19 goals and 73 assists in 271 career games with Chicago and Minnesota.

Hordichuk, 24, had one goal and four assists in 64 games with Florida last season. The 6-1, 211-pound left winger will provide a physical presence amidst a young roster that includes Taylor Hall.

"We made a decision to change some of our energy players on the bottom half of our lineup," said Tambellini. "Bringing in Eager and Hordichuk obviously gives us a different dimension that we really didn't have on a consistent basis."

Sutton, 36, had four assists in 39 games for Anaheim. The 6-6, 245-pounder has 35 goals and 105 assists in 624 games with the Ducks, San Jose, Minnesota, Atlanta, the New York Islanders and Ottawa.

"The addition of Andy Sutton, who is a stay-at-home, large defenceman, more of that presence in front of our net for special teams and things like that, it does change that look, that feel of our hockey club," said Tambellini.


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