So ... the Penguins' blue line just got a little bit more interesting.
The Penguins have re-signed former defenseman Mark Eaton (right) to a one-year contract worth a total of $725,000 (prorated).
Eaton, 35, appeared in 62 games with the Islanders last season and scored four points (one goal, three assists). Primarily a defensive defenseman, Eaton recorded 114 blocked shots last season.
He joined the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on a professional tryout contract last month. He appeared in six AHL games this season and recorded one assist. After being released from the contract, Eaton practiced with the NHL club most of last week.
A member of the 2009 Stanley Cup championship team, Eaton spent parts of four seasons with the Penguins from 2006-07 until 2009-10. In 218 regular season games with the Penguins, Eaton scored 31 points (seven goals, 24 assists). His best season in terms of offense came in 2009-10, Dan Bylsma's first full season as Penguins head coach, when Eaton scored 16 points (three goals, 13 assists).
Additionally, the team placed forward Evgeni Malkin on injured reserve retroactive to Feb. 22 due a concussion.
EN Says: First, regarding Malkin, this is a procedural move in order to free up a roster space and isn't indicative how severe Malkin's concussion is or isn't.
Regarding Eaton, this is a very interesting move. With the team experiencing mixed results on its bottom pairing with the likes of Robert Bortuzzo, Simon Despres (right) and Deryk Engelland, Eaton figures to provide some stability as a No. 5 or 6 defenseman.
The big question with Eaton is his health. Having spent over a decade in the NHL blocking shots, he's racked up some hard miles on his tires. At 35, he's definitely towards the end of the career. Having talked to him last week, he felt a benefit of the lockout was that it afforded him chance to rest his battered body.
If Eaton is truly healthy, he's definitely an upgrade over Bortuzzo, Engelland and Despres in some areas. He's very familiar with this team's system and he offers a veteran presence which Bortuzzo and Despres don't have at this level.
It'll be interesting to see what the team does with Despres. He would be the most likely candidate to be moved off the NHL roster as he can still be assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton without going through waivers. He's still a young developing talent who has shown some flashes of that skill this season but still has been prone to some inconsistencies. Being a No. 5 or 6 defenseman at the NHL level won't help his development as much as being a No. 1 or 2 defenseman in the AHL will.
(Photos: Eaton-Harry How/Getty Images; Despres-Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)