I’ve been hearing quite a bit of talk lately that if the Penguins were to get a top four defenseman (most recently rumored is Danny Markov, though the source of the rumor is very unreliable), they should deal either Orpik or Eaton for other assets. I have to say this to those people: don’t be stupid.
Is either of these two great? No. But both are more than serviceable. Eaton brings calmness and stability to a blue line and did wonders for the Pens defense last year when not injured. Orpik got much better last year and brings a physical presence the Pens sorely need from the defense. Even if the Pens did sign Markov, you want more than one physical defenseman.
Another good thing about both are that they are relatively cheap, making about $1.5mm each. For that price you aren’t going to get anyone better unless they are on a rookie deal, and those don’t last long. Plus Orpik is 26 and Eaton 30, so both have quite a few years ahead of them.
Also, there is a lot of talk of Letang already being on this roster. This is not a given, and even if it was, Letang wont help you in your own zone. If he does live up to his hype, we will have three good offensive guys in Gonchar, Whitney and Letang on the blue line. Unfortunately, none of them are particularly adept at keeping the puck out of the net. You need a solid defense, and while with a cap you cant have four first pairing defensemen, you can have good depth. Keeping the likes of Orpik and Eaton at their current amounts gives you that depth without breaking the bank.