That…that’s Mark Eaton’s music!
OK, yes, we know…the return of Mark Eaton to
Ruslan Fedotenko – signed with the Pens in summer of 2008 after New York Islanders decided to let him walk.
Miroslav Satan – signed with the Pens in summer of 2008 after the New York Islanders decided to let him walk.
Dan Bylsm…wait, Dan Bylsma? Yes, Dan Bylsma. NHL assistant coach in 2005-06 with New York Islanders under Steve Stirling & Brad Shaw. Wasn’t retained by Islanders after they decided to fire Shaw and bring in Ted Nolan.
And at the 2009 trade deadline, when Disco and Shero determined they needed a veteran forward who still had enough left to play top six and knock in a few goals, this is what a conditional draft pick can get you from the New York Islanders…
But hey, this is about Mark Eaton. So let’s share some thoughts on this, dudes, and talk through how this impacts the defense.
Barring injury, the top four won’t change. Letang, Martin, Orpik and Niskanen are still going to eat up 20+ minutes per night. If Eaton finds his way into the lineup, it will be on the third pairing. What does this mean for the lower pairing, then?
It helps to view the handling of everyone associated with the lower pairing – Engelland, Despres and Bortuzzo – within the context of a lockout-shortened season and the playoffs.
Under a normal 82-game season, the Pens would’ve had the luxury of a full training camp, exhibition games and a cushion of about 20 games (or more) to see what they had with the younger players. But in an abbreviated season like this, there’s much more at stake each night and much less margin for error. Right or wrong, it’s a reason why more of a premium seems to be placed on NHL experience by Bylsma and Shero. But that's not an absolute, either, as credence was paid by club management to Simon Despres and Robert Bortuzzo elevating their respective games. They're largely the reasons why both
As @PeteAbbate pointed out last night on Twitter, Eaton’s signingacquisition screams “Philippe Boucher” from 2009 – a veteran who can be trusted to play smart limited minutes on the third pairing or chip in when they elect to dress seven defensemen, as teams tend to do in the postseason. In the meantime, he’ll get a few games in the lineup here and there.
It’s likely they make another move to shore up the defensive depth, probably by adding another veteran who can provide a bigger presence. Woo trade deadline! Woo sports!
And yes, obviously this impacts Despres and Bortuzzo. Despres can be sent back to WBS without being exposed to waivers, so that will likely happen at some point. That’s fine. Despres acquitted himself well in Pittsburgh so far this year, but 20-25 minutes a night in a playoff run in WBS will ultimately help him more than 12 minutes a night will here.
He can’t go back down to WBS to play more because he’ll get claimed on waivers. Unlike the situation with Strait, that seems to be a gamble this franchise is unwilling to take with Bortuzzo. While
So welcome back Mark Eaton.
Stock up for Thursday night, as it'll be the Staal Brothers Drinking Game to end all Staal Brothers Drinking Games.
Former Head Coach Michel Therrien this weekend.
Happy Five Years Since Hossa.