Mark Eaton was one of the 3 veteran defensemen Garth Snow signed in the off season with Milan Jurcina and Mike Mottau. The goal was to improve the back line, and if not for the rash of injuries, the Isles might have had a different season. Not that circumstances allowed guys like, Travis Hamonic to step up and make an impact, but having, at one point, lost 5 of our opening night 6 guys on the defense surely hurt in the overall scheme of things.
Eaton was one of the defensemen who missed a significant amount of time because of injury. He only played in 34 games, though he was quite solid during that time. He had 3 assists and was a -2 overall in the games he was able to play.
I would have to give Eaton a B- as his grade. Unfortunately, 34 games is not an awful lot to judge a guy’s season performance, and, on top of that, he was hurt before the team turned the season around. Thus, for me, it’s hard to say how well he would have played if he had remained healthy. During the games he was in, though, I recall him being a pretty steady force using his size and long reach. He was not picked up for his offensive capabilities, so I was not expecting him to put up scoring numbers.
It will be interesting to see him next season as a part of the defensive mix. Without a doubt, like goaltending, the Isles do have a bit of depth on the back line. Seeing who will exactly make the six guys on the blue line on opening night will be interesting. Since Eaton missed so much time, how he will fit in the plans for the team will, I think, be decided during training camp.
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