Henry Hank wrote:Scuderi's really only played one more season here over Eaton.
I think you have to look at the Eaton signing in proper context. They signed him on day one of free agency. I still maintain it was a bargain contract. Guys like Finger and Salvador are no better than Eaton but signed larger deals. Also remember that at the time, Orpik was a UFA. Their plan A at that time likely was to sign Hossa and let Orpik go. They couldn't count on Goligoski to be NHL ready at that point. They also signed him knowing that Gill, Scuderi, and Sydor were scheduled to be UFAs after this season and that the cap squeeze likely would be pretty tight.
A lot of things have changed since then. They did end up signing Orpik. Injuries to Gonchar and Whitney opened up playing time for Goligoski who quickly established that he is ready for regular NHL time. They were able to fleece Dallas into giving up Boucher for Sydor. You couldn't have predicted all this when Eaton was signed. It was a gamble that hasn't worked out yet but there's still plenty of time for it to work out. We're still one injury away from him stepping back to the lineup, and we all know how easily injuries can crop up. There are still three defensemen scheduled to be UFAs after this season. The cap squeeze looks like it'll be even tighter than expected with the cap possibly going down, Staal bouncing back, and Goligoski emerging, meaning they'll both cost more than expected. I'll make the bet with someone that Scuderi ends up signing for more money and more years than Eaton did, meaning that even if Eaton wasn't signed Scuderi wasn't going to fit into the payroll structure here anyway.
Fair points about the proper context. I think you are right to suggest that the deal looks perhaps worse now than anyone expected it would, but, I still don't think it was a great deal. For one thing, were the Pens really forced into signing Eaton on Day 1 of Free Agency? I guess there's no way of knowing and anything would be speculating, but, I am willing to speculate that Eaton's phone was not ringing off the hook. If they could have made it one day, some of that context that the Eaton signing should be looked at in would have been gone. I mean, immediately after Orpik was signed, you have to believe the six defensemen would have been projected as:
Orpik - Gonchar
Whitney - Gill/Scuderi
Gill/Scuderi - Letang
Perhaps there is some difference of opinion with respect to the Gill, Scuderi, Eaton trio between Therrien and Shero. I think that's quite possible. Given the fact that Therrien has put A's on both Gill and Scuderi's jerseys this month, I think its pretty clear that barring a shocking camp, Eaton would have been the 7th guy ahead of Sydor if there were no injuries. But, if they would have even waited for day 2 of free agency, Eaton's deal would have been $2 million for the projected 7th defenseman. Whether he is worth the $2 million or not, this team, with its cap issues, simply won't be able to afford paying such a salary to a seventh dman. Even if the plan was for him to become the sixth next season and let Scuderi go.
With the injuries, it at first looked like a good decision to have that kind of depth on the team. Maybe management knew about Whitney's injury and that played a part in the decision too. Even so, that doesn't change what has been the case thus far this year -- Eaton has not played like a $2 million defenseman. I suppose its arguable that Eaton is "as good as" Finger, Salvador, etc. I personally would not say that Eaton's contract was a bargain. I would say it was fair value for a full or nearly full season of the way Eaton played for some stretches of his two years in Pittsburgh. Eaton's played well below that level this season. I would say there's still a reasonable chance Eaton could raise the level of his game given how much time he missed last season, but, I just don't see how it can be denied that Eaton has not played anywhere near the level he did in previous seasons. That's not really on Shero, though, its tough to predict how a guy is going to bounce back from injury. Still, I think it was not at all a "necessary" signing, and, with the question marks due to injury, I think its proven to be a stretch so far.
So, I agree and disagree. I think there's a lot of good points you make, but, at the same time, I don't feel like the GM should be protected by context all the time when it involved some degree of speculation -- Hossa would sign, Orpik would leave, Goligoski would need another AHL season, Eaton would return to form.