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Mark Eaton released from PTO, but at Penguins practice

Veteran defenseman Mark Eaton is practicing with the Pittsburgh Penguins. What does his future hold?

Bruce Bennett

News broke this morning that the Penguins had released Mark Eaton from his player tryout contract with the Wilkes/Barre-Scranton Penguins. Eaton played six games in the minors and recorded an assist.

But that's not the end of the story, only the beginning- as Eaton is in Pittsburgh this morning practicing with the Penguins for their morning game skate prior to the game against the Philadelphia Flyers tonight.

So, what gives? Brian Metzer shedded a little perspective on twitter:

It remains to be seen if the Penguins have plans for Eaton in the NHL, the current numbers say they don't, but things can change in a hurry with injuries.

The Pens currently have seven healthy defensemen in the NHL, with only Simon Despres as a player not eligible for waivers, if they choose to send one down. Robert Bortuzzo, a usual healthy scratch, has played relatively well in very light minutes.

In fact, with the return of Kris Letang and Matt Niskanen, the Pens are leaning on their top four defensemen (with Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin) for all but 10-12 minutes a night. They could use a reliable defensemen, especially one who can kill penalties like Eaton has done over his career.