Last summer, in an attempt to upgrade their blue line, the Oilers reportedly took a long look at New York Islanders defenceman Mark Streit. The veteran puck-mover would have slotted into the team’s top-four, has a long history with head coach Ralph Krueger, and stood a decent shot of becoming the Oilers’ top defenceman overnight.
The Islanders, at the time, decided to keep him. Now it seems far more likely that they’ll let him go – is Edmonton still interested?
TSN’s Darren Dreger laid out the main points on his Twitter feed Tuesday morning.
Mark Streit is unlikely to agree to extension with NYI.Isles may keep him for playoff race, but unless there’s change, Streit will be a UFA.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) April 2, 2013
With Streit negotiation stalled, expect teams to make a play for trade. Isles don’t want to trade him. Could change overnight. #tradecentre
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) April 2, 2013
The Islanders are in a bad spot here; tied with the Rangers for the final playoff position in the East (with the Rangers having a game in hand). It’s going to be very difficult for the team to trade away their captain, a guy playing more than 24:00 per game and who leads the blue line with 18 points. At the same time, the Islanders have so much trouble acquiring NHL talent that it’s also going to be quite difficult to just let Streit walk away for nothing.
After years of very strong play, Mark Streit’s performance has fallen off this season. His minus-15 rating overstates the situation – the Islanders’ goaltending situation has been wretched this year, and with Streit on the ice the team has a miserable 0.877 save percentage (something that isn’t likely his fault). With that said, Streit typically gas driven the play for Long Island the last few years – the team typically out-shot the opposition with Streit on the ice and got lit up with him on the bench. This year, Streit’s been slightly better than the team average but has not excelled. He is playing strong opposition and holding his own, but typically he has been better than that.
What Streit still does is produce offence at a prodigious rate. Among active defenceman with at least 250 games played since 2005-06, he ranks 10th in the NHL in points per game – numbers comparable to players like Brian Campbell, Zdeno Chara, Kimmo Timonen, Tobias Enstrom and Shea Weber. He scores at even-strength and he scores on the power play; he adds exactly the kind of puck-moving ability the Oilers were hoping Ryan Whitney would be able to provide them with this season.
Streit is a pending unrestricted free agent, but more than that his next contract is going to be a 35+ deal – meaning that if he’s extended, the cap hit on his new deal will be locked in no matter what happens.
One of the things the Oilers could do – if they were interested in acquiring Streit – is blend in current assets and futures. The Islanders don’t want to fall out of the playoff race, and the Oilers could offer them a player like Ryan Whitney in the here-and-now as well as some kind of draft pick/prospect package to off-set them for the gap in skill between Streit and Whitney. Another piece that might interest the Islanders, assuming they can’t land a superior player, is Nikolai Khabibulin – the Islanders are 0-5 with either of their backup goalies playing and have a 0.860 save percentage in those situations. Even starter Evgeni Nabokov is struggling, with a 0.905 save percentage. The point is that in a trade with Edmonton, the Islanders would still be able to do the traditional ‘rental player for futures’ trade, but potentially plug the hole just created in their lineup at the same time.
That’s all speculation of course, and perhaps the Oilers will look at Streit’s age and decide he isn’t in the future plans and that there’s no sense spending assets on a rental player. He is a good fit for their top-four both right now and over the next few years, however, and they have expressed an interest in the past. It’s a situation to keep an eye on.
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