According to Newsday’s Arthur Staple, New York Islanders defenseman and captain Mark Streit will test the free-agent waters this summer. Streit reportedly turned down what is being called the Islanders “best offer” which was said to be around $14 million for 3-years. Last season he earned $4.1 million so the Islanders didn’t exactly give him a whopping raise, making his decision an easy one to hit the open market.
The Oilers could be very interested in Streit but they must proceed with caution. At 35-years of age Streit may not have many year’s left, let alone productive years. Anything more than a 3-year deal would be ludicrous meaning it’s likely going to come down to the annual value of his new deal.
It’s no secret that the Oilers blue line is in need of some repair and a simple patchwork job won’t suffice. Adding Streit wouldn’t be considered a patchwork, but more of a stabilizing presence on the back end.
He’s not a monster in terms of size coming in at just 5’11″ and 193 pounds. But it’s his skating and puck moving abilities that make him an attractive option. Andy Graziano, the editor at Eyes on Isles had this to say about Streit’s game:
Moving the puck and transitioning from defense to offense are still skills that Streit possesses. His first pass has declined slightly and led to more turnovers this year but not to the point where he would not help a young blueline like they have in Edmonton. He is also an excellent teacher and tutor of the game and could prove very beneficial in that capacity as well.
During the last two full NHL seasons, Streit played in all 82 games both years and put up impressive numbers; 49 points in 09-10 and 47 points in 10-11. This past year in 48 games played, he registered 6 goals and 21 assists for 27 points keeping pace with his previous two seasons.
He would add a punch to the Oilers powerplay that ranked 8th in the league last year so it’s difficult to say they are in dire straits for his offensive abilities.
The focus needs to be in the defensive zone. That is where the Oilers struggle and Streit’s game isn’t necessary designed to come to Edmonton and become a shutdown d-man, something Graziano agrees.
In terms of playing a strong defensive game, that is the one area of concern. He is a -41 in his last 130 games as an Islander and looked very slow on a lot of occasions this year, especially in the playoffs against Pittsburgh. For that kind of money, I would think you would want someone a little more rounded in that part of the game. Especially when you are talking a move to the more offensive, wide open Western conference.
This past season he was a minus-14 and last year he was an atrocious minus-27 that Graziano speaks of. Granted he did play for the lowly Islanders last season who weren’t that good, let alone competitive. Only three teams gave up more goals that the Island boys and the Oilers were not one of them during the 2011-12 campaign.
The Oilers will have some money to spend this summer especially if they choose to use one or both of their compliance buyouts on players like Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff that could save the club over $10 million annually; money that would go a long way in the free-agent market.
Would it be wise to replace Hemsky’s contract with Mark Streit? Soon to be 36 year’s old, I say no and coming from someone who has watched Streit extensively over the past few years, Graziano agrees that Edmonton should steer clear from the Streit party.
Is Streit the best offensive defenseman on the market this year? Yes. Is the best defensive one? Absolutely not. The Oilers might be best targeting a guy like Ron Hainsey or Rob Scuderi in that case and saving a few bucks and a few years.
Time will tell what the Oilers management thinks of Streit and whether or not they like him enough to overpay for an aging defenseman. I agree with Graziano’s point of view and that the Oilers should focus their attention and money elsewhere in order to fix their blue line holes. But of course we aren’t the GM and can merely offer our opinion.
What do you think the Oilers should do when it comes to Mark Streit? Would you sign him to a 3-4 year deal for $5 million annually? Leave your comments below.