Penguins Notebook: Bylsma in no rush to use Eaton in games
The Penguins and coach Dan Bylsma are happy to have veteran defenseman Mark Eaton back on the team, but don't be surprised if he only plays sparingly.
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SUNRISE, Fla. -- Mark Eaton doesn't know when he's going to get into a game with the Penguins.
He's pretty sure he knows how he'll feel when it's about to happen, though.
"There's always nerves," Eaton said Tuesday. "It doesn't matter how young or old you are, how many games you've played, the nerves are always part of it.
"That's what tells me, mentally, that I'm where I need to be. If I wasn't nervous, I'd think something would be wrong."
Eaton was a healthy scratch for the Penguins' game Tuesday against Florida at BB&T Center, and coach Dan Bylsma was noncommittal about when he will clear a lineup spot for Eaton.
"I don't think there's a rush at this point to get Mark in today or the next game," Bylsma said. "Or even a schedule at this point in time."
Eaton signed a one-year, $750,000 contract Monday after completing several days of practice with the Penguins. He had been an unrestricted free agent since July. His addition gives the Penguins eight defensemen, a somewhat unwieldy number under normal circumstances, on their major league roster.
Bylsma volunteered that "carrying eight is not ideal," mostly because it is difficult to get enough playing time for all of them, but added that the opportunity to add an experienced defenseman who is familiar with the team and cost nothing more than a salary could not be ignored.
"We're adding ... a guy who not only is a veteran guy but who knows Pittsburgh, knows our team," Bylsma said. "He's obviously won and competed at a high level."
Malkin just resting
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, diagnosed with a concussion after being knocked into the boards Friday by Florida defenseman Erik Gudbranson at Consol Energy Center, did not accompany the Penguins on the three-game road trip that began Tuesday night against Florida.
He might not be doing much of anything while they're gone, either, because Bylsma said Malkin is not engaging in any physical activity.
"There's not a specific schedule for that right now, in terms of physical activity," Bylsma said. "The protocol, resting with a concussion, he's following that right now."
There is no timetable for Malkin to resume skating or to return to the lineup.
Florida forward Jonathan Huberdeau, the third player chosen in the 2011 draft, figures to turn up on a lot of Calder Trophy ballots this spring.
And while he wasn't a major factor in the Penguins' 3-1 victory Friday -- he did reject credit for the lone Panthers goal -- he has made a favorable impression on them in his first month-plus in the NHL.
"He's right up there [with the top rookies]," Penguins defenseman Kris Letang said. "He's a skilled guy, poised with the puck. He started to look better and better."
The Panthers played without center Stephen Weiss, who missed the game to attend his grandmother's funeral in Toronto. How much of a blow that was is conjecture.
Weiss has been one of their most prominent and productive players since being selected in the first round of the 2001 draft, but he has struggled most of this season and has become subject to frequent trade speculation.
He has one goal, three assists and a plus-minus rating of minus-11 in 14 games.
Penguins winger Tanner Glass, who broke into the NHL with Florida, said trade talk about Weiss "has been thrown around about him every year since I've known him," but would not be in a hurry to deal him. "Maybe a fresh start wouldn't hurt, but he's a great asset for any hockey club to have."
NHL teams reportedly were briefed on a realignment proposal that would put the Penguins into one of two eight-team divisions in the Eastern Conference. They would be grouped with Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, the New York Islanders, the New York Rangers, Philadelphia and Washington.
The plan has yet to be approved.
First Published February 27, 2013 12:00 am