The Philadelphia Flyers have agreed to a deal in principle with free agent defenseman Mark Streit, whose rights they obtained last week from the New York Islanders. Per TSN’s Darren Dreger, the contract is for four years and worth $21 mil, with a limited no trade clause. The Flyers cannot make the deal official at this time because they can only exceed the new salary cap limit by 10% and they will need to cut salary to create cap space.
Streit has spent seven seasons in the National Hockey League, the first three with the Montreal Canadiens and the last four with the New York Islandersand has a reputation for being strong offensively and only average at best defensively. Streit has finished in the top ten in points among defenseman since 2007/08, excluding the 2010/11 season which he missed due to a shoulder injury suffered in training camp.
Streit was set to be the top defenseman in what has become a very weak free agent market and the Flyers moved quickly to get negotiating rights before free agency begins on July 5th. The Flyers do have holes on the blue line and making a move to get a defenseman outside of the NHL journeyman bucket was obviously a high priority for management.
There are questions regarding the length and money involved in this deal, as four years and $21 mil is a lot for a 35 year old, considering the team salary cap limit is dropping this year as part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement signed in January. While it has been a forgone conclusion that the Flyers would use a compliance buyout on forward Danny Briere and the last two years on his contract, the team most likely needs to use the second buyout this offseason to rid them of the last seven years of Ilya Bryzgalov‘s mega deal.
While the Flyers certainly had a glaring need on defense, I am not sure that Streit fills any of the teams immediate needs. He is a very effective player on the power play, a strength of last year’s Flyers team, but would most likely be the quarter back of the second unit, as Kimmo Timonen and Jakub Voracek ran the point on the first unit.
It remains to be seen if this deal leads to one of the Flyers current defenseman being traded, which would be a financially prudent move considering the money the team has tied up in the blue line. If the contract numbers hold true, the team will have just fewer than 44% of their allotted salary cap allowance tied up in Streit, Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Andrej Meszaros, Luke Schenn, Nicklas Grossmann, Bruno Gervais and Marc-Andre Bourdon. This is not including Chris Pronger’s contract and any money that may be paid to Erik Gustafsson, who is currently a restricted free agent.
I want to judge this deal harshly because I do not see the need for a big cap number for another aging defenseman being the answer for this franchise. The options on the unrestricted free agent market are limited and the restricted free agent route can lead to missed opportunities, as we all saw last summer. The trade market certainly was an option, but it has been rumored that the cost of getting a Keith Yandle or Dustin Byfuglien, roughly the same cap hit for a younger players, could be very costly to the team in that they would have to give up a promising forward like Brayden Schenn or Sean Couturier.
I would like to think that this deal will at least mean the Flyers will be more patient with the young forwards on their roster and not make any rash trades this offseason. There is another part of me that thinks that this is just the lead domino in what could be a very busy offseason, with General Manager Paul Holmgren remaking the defense. The team has some tough decisions coming up next season with Captain Claude Giroux needing a contract extension, Matt Read becoming an unrestricted free agent and Brayden Schenn and Couturier becoming restricted free agents.
If the buyout of Bryzgalov does come to fruition, the Flyers would now have a pretty big hole in net and would most certainly need to make a move via the trade market or by making a qualifying offer to a restricted free agent to bring in some competition for goalie Steve Mason. My brain is telling me the Streit contract is one that the team will regret and my gut is telling me this is one of many moves and it may too early to judge the final product because it is nowhere near being finished.Tags: Andrej Meszaros, Brayden Schenn, Braydon Coburn, Bruno Gervais, Danny Briere, Dustin Byfuglien, Erik Gustafsson, Ilya Bryzgalvo, Keith Yandle, Kimmo Timonen, Luke Schenn, Mark Streit, NHL, Nicklas Grossmann, Philadelphia Flyers, Sean Couturier