Sep 22, 2011

Season Preview: Mark Eaton

Mark Eaton

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 203 lbs
Birthdate: May 6th, 1977 (34 years old)
Birthplace: Wilmington, DE, US
Acquired: Signed Free Agent, 2010

2010-2011 Team: New York Islanders
2010-2011 Stats: 34 GP - 0 G - 3 A - 3 P - 8 PIM
2011-2012 Team: New York Islanders
Team Role: 2nd/3rd pairing D-Man

Last year: Signed as a free agent after being a part of the very powerful Pittsburgh Penguins team for 4 years and winning a Stanley Cup with them in '09, Eaton was a very welcome addition to the Islanders blue line, providing a veteran presence and solid defensive work. His positional work was good and his discipline (as seen in his low penalty numbers) was excellent. He did what he did quietly, but kept players to the outside and blocked shots as much as he could. However, before he could put in a full year for the Islanders, he was sidelined by an injury to his hip in early January that required surgery, missing the rest of the season.

Expectations: Eaton should return healthy, and with Streit back and another year of experience under the belts of Andrew MacDonald and Travis Hamonic, should be helping to create a very stable and efficient Islanders D corps. Depending on who finds better chemistry with who, Eaton could be finding himself on the 2nd D pairing with Andrew MacDonald or Travis Hamonic if another D-man is not signed. Milan Jurcina will also be in the mix for the last spot in the top 4, so training camp is going to continue to be interesting to see what kind of combination is created for opening night. Eaton will continue to provide his veteran presence and while not contributing offensively, should have another sound year as long as he stays healthy. Something that for the Islanders is never an easy task.

Projections: GP 64 - 1 G - 9 A - 10 P


AT: Eaton was a great acquisition and pretty much exactly who the Islanders should be expected to sign considering their budget restraints and the fact that to higher tiered free agents, they are not an attractive team to play for. In his short time last season, Eaton did exactly what he was advertised as, and did so to a level that was very acceptable for his role. He has had a history of injuries however and this is the final year of his contract, so hopefully he can stay healthy for a good portion of the season to provide some stability on the blue line. He and Jurcina proved to be great signings, and if both of them can stay healthy the Islanders will have a much easier time this year.

CH: Eaton is a very solid, yet unspectacular defenseman. Having lived in Pittsburgh for a few years, I was familiar with his game and thought the Islanders made a quality signing when they agreed to a contract in 2010. Last year was difficult for Eaton, no question. But he did play a solid, smart game when he was healthy. He also established himself as a leader of the room, having been given an "A" by the coaching staff at points last season. This year should be a nice comeback year for Eaton, and if he plays to his capabilities and stays healthy, it's possible the Isles could look into keeping him for another year. But like Alex said, stability on the blueline is paramount and that is something Eaton provides.

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