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:
Eaton thing isn't all that odd. Jay Pandolfo skated with B's intermittently before signing, Gomez did same with Sharks.— Brian Metzer (@Brian_Metzer) February 20, 2013
Vets looking for #NHL work occasionally make agreements with GMs -- I'll work out with team for X time, if you decide by X date to sign me.— Brian Metzer (@Brian_Metzer) February 20, 2013
Another example, Mathieu Darche skated with the #Devils for close to a month before they moved on and he retired.— Brian Metzer (@Brian_Metzer) February 20, 2013
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.