Apr 3; Newark, NJ, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Mark Eaton (4) makes a sliding save on New Jersey Devils left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky (12) during the second period at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE

Eyes on Isles - Islander Season Review - #4 Mark Eaton

Chances are, there’s probably an actor that you like that hasn’t made a good movie in say, 10 years, but for nostalgia’s sake you still go see their movies. Maybe say, Adam Sandler’s stuff since 2000? Mark Eaton is the ice hockey version of that, for me anyway.

As I’m looking back on Eaton’s year (and we’re talking about Mark Eaton the un-drafted free agent hockey player from Delaware, not the 7’4″ Wookie who played for the Utah Jazz for 10 years), I can’t help but think that I, myself, may have hyped him up a little much.

Ya see, with Eaton, I remember the 2009 NHL Playoffs when he tallied 4 goals, 3 assists, and logged some quality minutes for the Stanley Cup Champion Penguins. Not Conn Smythe numbers, but solid nonetheless. That playoff performance resonated through my head when I heard Eaton was signed to the Isles at the beginning of 2010-11 season. Basically with that in mind, looking through the hindsight window, Eaton had nowhere to go but down, down, downnnnnn.

Eaton played in 62 games in ’11-’12. He was a career worst minus-17 and averaged roughly 16 minutes of ice time.

To be painfully honest, Eaton has been an inspiring difficult player review for me because, . . . I don’t even know what Eaton did, good or bad this year. Really. He was pretty insignificant. One word comes to mind when I hear Eaton’s name. Vanilla.

To his credit, his defensive partners on the blueline this past year were, well, horrible. I recall Mike Mottau and Milan Jurcina out there with him most of the season. Staios once in a while? Basically he was partnered with the likes of Officer Sweetchuck from Police Academy. Not much really to boast of and work with.

The intangible factor is worth considering with Eaton, which I’m sure was a big reason Snow brought him here a couple years ago (equally as important as reaching the salary floor). He was a good influence on the young fellas like Travis Hamonic and A-Mac. I guess and I speculate because I don’t train, play, or hang out with these guys.

Based solely on performance, Eaton would be in the D- range. Factor in the intangibles he brought to the team coupled with the horrendous pairing he was a part of and I’ll rate him a D+.

Eaton won’t be back next year, but I anticipate a team with an average to above average defensive corps will pick him up, pay him $2 million a year and he’ll be a serviceable 5 or 6. Just not with the Isles.

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