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.