Flyers Trade for Rights to Islanders Defenseman Mark Streit

Flyers Trade for Rights to Islanders Defenseman Mark Streit

It appears the Flyers may have landed their veteran defenseman, and they didn’t have to give up Brayden Schenn or Sean Couturier to do it. The team announced on Wednesday that they have acquired the rights to New York Islanders captain Mark Streit in exchange for prospect Shane Harper and a fourth-round pick in 2014.

Streit is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 5, but by trading for him now the Flyers have an exclusive window to negotiate a new deal before he officially reaches the market. General manager Paul Holmgren told Flyers Insider Anthony SanFilippo he is “hopeful” the two sides can come to terms.

Streit turns 36 in December, and is coming off of a five-year contract worth $20.5 million, or $4.1 mil per season. He and the Islanders were described as far apart in negotiations when talks broke off last week. From Newsday via ProHockeyTalk, the team was offering three years at $4.75 per, but Streit was said to be looking for north of $5.5M.

Assuming the Flyers’ front office can get him signed (and to something reasonable at that), Streit could make a major impact on a back end that was crippled by injuries last season, not to mention never found an adequate replacement for its best puck mover in Matt Carle.

An All Star in 2009, Streit is one of the more offensively-gifted defensemen in the NHL. He racked up six goals and 21 assists over a 48-game season in 2013. Over the previous five full seasons he averaged 50 points, racking up double digit goals in four, and cracking 40 assists in three. Almost half of Streit’s 288 career points over seven seasons have come on the power play (141), where he is perhaps at his finest. He can play point guard, or unleash a huge left-hand shot.

Streit can get into trouble at his own end though. Listed at 5’11”, 191 lbs., he isn’t necessarily the most physical presence on the ice. Since missing the 2010-11 season with a shoulder injury, his defense has been especially suspect. Streit is a -41 over the last two years, which granted is not a perfect measurement, but does give us some idea it’s not been great.

Pairing Streit with a solid stay-at-home defender such as Luke Schenn or Nicklas Grossmann could help alleviate some of those concerns. Streit has also proven durable, playing every game for the Islanders in three of the past four seasons, so at least the Flyers can reasonably count on him to suit up most nights.

Obviously whether or not he signs and for how much will play into the final analysis. However, when you consider what the Flyers gave up for Streit’s rights – a 24-year-old wing who is nowhere near ready, and a fourth rounder next year – it seems a perfectly acceptable risk.

Had they waited until July, Streit would have been one of the better unrestricted free agents available. And while there has been a lot of talk of trading for younger, better players who may or may not have status as a top blueliner, any package that leads with B. Schenn or Couturier is a steep price to pay – even then, there was no guarantee they would be able to land a “number one.”

Streit’s offensive ability brings a dynamic to the Flyers’ rearguard that was missing for much of last season. In the right pairing, he might be serviceable in his defensive responsibilities. Don’t overlook what an upgrade it would be just to have somebody that’s available to play on a nightly basis, either.

There’s no denying the Streit acquisition has something of a stopgap feel to it. Ideally Holmgren would not be chasing down 35-year-old defensemen. Then again, there were going to be a lot of unhappy campers if talented, young building blocks were moved for most players, and nobody would have been happy if the team did nothing at all.

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

It appears the Sixers' frontcourt logjam may not be an issue early on.

Nerlens Noel, who is having surgery Monday for an inflamed plica in his left knee, will miss the first three to five weeks of the season, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Noel suffered a left groin injury in the first preseason game against the Celtics and missed the rest of the preseason. While undergoing treatment, Noel reported left knee soreness, which led to the discovery of the inflamed plica.

It's been an odd start to the season for Noel. The big man was outspoken about his displeasure with the Sixers' frontcourt situation early in camp. With the deadline for Noel's rookie contract extension approaching on Oct. 31, the team has not had conversations about it, according to a report.

The Sixers are already without No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons as he recovers from surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot. The team will also be without their starting point guard Jerryd Bayless who is dealing with a ligament issue in his left wrist. Bayless won't require surgery and will be reevaluated in two weeks.

Eagles-Vikings Week 7: What they're saying

Eagles-Vikings Week 7: What they're saying

Riding a two-game losing streak, the Eagles (3-2) return home Sunday for the first time in nearly a month and welcome a familiar face to the confines of Lincoln Financial Field. 

Sam Bradford and the Vikings (5-0) will come to Philadelphia fresh off a Week 6 bye and, most notably, as the league's lone unbeaten team. Minnesota boasts one of the league's top defenses, ranking first in points allowed (12.6 per game) and second in yards allowed (287.6 per game), and is looking to improve to 6-0 for the first time since 2009.

The last time these two franchises met was back in December 2013, when Matt Cassell and the Vikings put up 48 points in a win over Chip Kelly's Eagles.

To get a better handle on this year's Vikings, here's what they're saying about the Eagles' Week 7 opponent.

Brian Robison poses yet another challenge for Big V
Making his NFL debut in a start against the Redskins last week, Halapoulivaati Vaitai struggled mightily. Ryan Kerrigan beat Vaitai and got to Carson Wentz for 2½ sacks, all of which came in the first half.

It won't get any easier for the rookie right tackle this week either, as he'll likely be lined up against Brian Robison for most of the afternoon. Robison has four sacks and two forced fumbles on the season and, according to Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune, the versatile 10-year defensive end could be difference maker on the defensive side of the ball Sunday.

"Whether his hand is in the turf at left end or he’s standing over a guard or center as the defensive tackle, Robison could be dropping back to cover a tight end or running back," Krammer wrote. "At the line, he’s given responsibilities to call stunts or twists depending on their own play call. Sometimes he’s setting the pick to free another teammate. ... And on Sunday against the Eagles and their rookie right tackle, keep an eye on Robison when he lines up at his traditional spot of left end. All four of his sacks this season, including two strip-sacks, have come from there."

Makeshift offensive line remains a question mark
The Vikings may be undefeated, but by no means are they made up of perfect parts. As the midway point of the NFL season approaches, Minnesota's injury-battered offensive line is still a work in progress. 

Starting tackles Matt Kalil and Andre Smith are both sidelined with season-ending injuries. Starting guard Brandon Fusco suffered a concussion Week 5 against the Texans, but is expected to return against the Eagles. Center is the only position on the line the Vikings haven't had to replace because of an injury at some point this season.

But despite the constant changes up front, Minnesota has been stout overall in protecting the quarterback, allowing eight sacks and 27 quarterback hits across five games. According to Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press, the performance of that makeshift offensive line is going to be key in the Vikings' potential success down the road. 

"What’s best for Bradford and the Vikings’ standing as the NFC’s top dog is better pass protection," Murphy wrote. "He was sacked twice when Houston defenders turnstiled Clemmings and hit hard in the pocket other times. ... Offensive line intrigue never is a sexy storyline, but how well the Vikings manage the unit week to week figures to be an underlying factor to their continued success."

Strong away from home
The Vikings are a just a few years removed from going winless on the road, finishing 0-7-1 away from home in the 2013 season. Minnesota secured wins in only two of its first 10 away games under the tutelage of Mike Zimmer, but have since gone on a tear.

Minnesota has won seven of its last eight road games dating back to last season and, in their most recent game away from U.S. Bank Stadium, the Vikings took down the Panthers, 22-10, in Week 3. A testament of a true contender is having the ability to win consistently on the road, which holds true with the Vikings.

According to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press, the Vikings' vast improvement over the past two-plus seasons has contributed to them becoming a stronger team away from home.

"Facing a tough opposing crowd once was a tall order for the Vikings, but it’s much less of one now. After being one of the worse road teams in the NFL earlier this decade, they’re now one of the best," Tomasson wrote. "Overall, the Vikings have improved, having gone from 7-9 in 2014 to 11-5 last season to 5-0 this year. That’s the main reason the road record has gotten so much better. Still, players say the continuity the team has had has especially helped when entering rugged road environments."

While Vegas has the Vikings as light favorites on the road, national experts have them heavily favored straight up to hand the Eagles their third straight loss.

ESPN: All nine experts picked the Vikings

CBS Sports: Seven of eight experts picked the Vikings

FOX Sports: Three of five experts picked the Vikings