NHL Pittsburgh Penguins

Defenseman Mark Eaton Returns to Pittsburgh Penguins

Tom Szczerbowski – USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced earlier this afternoon that they’ve signed defenseman, Mark Eaton, to a one-year contract worth $750,000.

Eaton was signed to a professional try out (PTO) by the Penguins AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre Scranton back in January.  Speculation began at the time surrounding the Penguins faith (or lack thereof) in defenseman Simon Despres. Despres made the NHL roster but had a horrible start to the season.  Talk died down as Despres worked to make an astounding turn-around.

Just this month, the Baby Pens released Eaton and he began skating with the Penguins shortly thereafter.  Now that Eaton has signed a one-year deal, the buzz is back about what this means for Penguins’ defensemen especially Despres.  He has been, as young players often are, relatively inconsistent.

Penguins general manager, Ray Shero, seems to be moving the team closer to that perfect equation for a successful Stanley Cup run now rather than later.  Quite simply, Eaton brings that veteran presence the Penguins are currently missing from the roster.  He also helped the Penguins make it to the 2008 Stanley Cup Final and was part of the 2009 Stanley Cup Championship team, so he brings that experience as well. 

The question still remains as to where exactly Eaton will fit in as well as which defenseman will be affected by this move.  Speculation seems to encompass Despres, but nothing has yet to be confirmed.

However, those questions will likely be answered tomorrow night when the Penguins play the Florida Panthers.  With Eaton already skating with the team, he is likely to show up in the lineup.

Stephanie Lewark is a featured Pittsburgh Penguins writer for RantSports.com. Follow her on Twitter (@steelcitysports), check out her Facebook page and add her to your Google+ circle.