ROOM FOR ROSTER MOVES
— I’m being told not to read a ton into the Penguins trading Carl Sneep, in regards to the Penguins roster at the NHL level. Sneep was stuck in Wheeling and was maybe the 16th or 17th defenseman at best on the organizational depth chart. He had no future in the organization and the player wanted a better opportunity so the Penguins accommodated him and he was moved to Dallas for a conditional 2013 seventh round pick based on Sneep playing 10 games or more at the NHL, which is unlikely to happen.
What the Sneep trade did do was give the Penguins a bigger cushion from the 50 max contracts limit. The trade of Sneep puts the Penguins at 47 contracts giving them room to make additional roster moves in the organization.
That brings me to Tom Kostopoulos and Mark Eaton:
Will we see either in Pittsburgh this season? Of the two, the feeling around the team is Kostopoulos has the better shot. Following the lockout, the Penguins expressed immediate interest in bringing Kostopoulos into camp last week on a tryout but his agent wanted to wait things out, which led to Kostopoulos getting a professional tryout in Wilkes Barre this week. The Penguins eventually want to get their NHL roster to 14 forwards and 7 defensemen, and sources say the team will give serious consideration to signing Kostopoulos to an NHL contract (likely two-way), based on how he looks in Wilkes Barre. The Penguins like his ability as a role player and would like to strengthen their depth.
The Mark Eaton situation is less clear. How Eaton has ended up in Wilkes Barre on a PTO was more orchestrated by agent Steve Bartlett than the Penguins being really interested in him at the NHL level. Bartlett and Shero have a great relationship dating back to Shero’s time in Ottawa and the Penguins were approached about this by the player and agent as Eaton wants to get in game shape and hopefully catch on with a team like Kent Huskins did with Detroit this week.
Eaton’s camp continues to contend that several teams are interested and will be scouting him this weekend. Scouts I’ve heard from no longer feel Eaton is a top-6 defenseman, but It’s a win-win situation for the Penguins. If Eaton shows he has something left, then maybe they think about bringing him on board (will have to clear a roster spot first) at the vet minimum, and play a depth defenseman role who would also be a good asset in the room. If the Penguins remain not interested, some of their young defensemen in Wilkes Barre could learn a lot from Eaton whether it would be just for a few weeks until he signs on somewhere else.
The former Penguin was a minus-17 last season with the Islanders and turns 36 in May. He’s not the answer for this blueline.