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2010 NHL Free Agency: Islanders set to add Mark Eaton for two-years, $5M

Niclas Bergfors, Mark Eaton

Atlanta Thrashers right wing Niclas Bergfors, left, is checked by Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton (7)during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday April 10, 2010, in Atlanta. Atlanta won 1-0. (AP Photo/John Amis)


The New York Islanders are reportedly on the verge of signing former Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton to a two-year, $5 million contract according to Nick Kypreos.

The 32-year-old defenseman produced his best career point output last season, scoring 16 in 79 games for the Penguins. He brings a decent mixture of defensive-minded play and occasional flourishes of offense to the table.

Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to “make it” to the table very often during most of his pro career. He played less than half of the season in the 06-07 and 07-08 campaigns and only played more than 70 games twice in his career. He’s never played a full 82 game season in his NHL career.

Overall, it’s a slightly expensive deal for the Islanders, but it might be a while before GM Garth Snow can get away with signing players below market value. It will take the occasional overpayment (or a leap of faith on a reclamation project here and there) to lure hockey players to Long Island, especially considering the lowly stature of Nassau Coliseum.

It’s a decent baby step for the Islanders, a team trying to improve incrementally while its bigger brothers in the Atlantic division keep landing big-time players. Will the slow-but-steady approach work? Maybe, maybe not, but the Islanders really don’t have any other choice.