TO KICK OFF what is expected to be a busy summer for the Flyers, general manager Paul Holmgren brought in a steady defenseman to help shore up a broken blue line.
Consider this one, though, a relatively short-term fix, given the player's age. The Flyers yesterday acquired the rights to Islanders defenseman Mark Streit, 35, who was due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 5, in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2014 and Phantoms winger Shane Harper.
"Mark is a player we would have had interest in on July 5," Holmgren said in a statement. "We now have exclusive negotiating rights and we are hopeful that we can get an agreement in place prior to him becoming a UFA."
Streit's agent, Pat Brisson, told the Daily News he was set to begin negotiating with Holmgren yesterday afternoon. It did not seem as if the Flyers received permission to negotiate with Streit's group before acquiring his rights. Brisson also represents Claude Giroux, Danny Briere and Max Talbot.
Streit was the Islanders' captain the last three seasons, the first Swiss-born player to hold that honor in the NHL. He netted 27 points while appearing in all 48 games this season, as he helped New York back to the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
"It's an exciting time for me," Streit said in a statement from Switzerland. "Obviously, I'm excited to get traded to Philadelphia. Philly has an unbelievable team. It's a great franchise and a great city and it's a hockey town for sure."
Streit is coming off a 5-year, $20.5 million deal with the Islanders, which paid him $4.1 million per season. Streit's camp made it clear to Islanders general manager Garth Snow shortly after New York's ouster from the playoffs that it would be unlikely they could agree to an extension.
Reports from Newsday earlier in June indicated that Streit may be seeking as much as $5.5 million per season in a 3-year deal. Brisson will clearly argue, on behalf of Streit, that his client could receive a huge payday on the open market, possibly considered to be the weakest free-agency class in NHL history.
"I'm pretty confident [a deal will get done]," Streit said. "I think that maybe they need a few days or weeks, but I'm pretty positive. It'd be awesome to play for the Flyers. The future is bright. They were in the Cup finals 3 years ago and there is so much skill and a great mix between veteran players and young players, so I'm pretty confident and I truly hope it's going to get done soon."
For the Flyers, the more interesting figure may the length of any deal they hammer out. Because of his age, a long-term deal could come back to haunt the team if Streit is unable to fulfill it. Streit has an injury history, missing the entire 2010-11 season due to a torn rotator cuff that required surgery. He hasn't missed a game since.
A big-money deal with Streit likely would all but confirm that the Flyers are planning to part ways with Danny Briere (as expected) and possibly goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov with the use of compliance buyouts. The salary cap is dropping from $70.2 million to $64.3 million for next season.
According to CapGeek.com, the Flyers are already over that $64.3 million figure if you include Chris Pronger's $4.91 million, which will come off the cap on the second day of the season with long-term injury relief. It may also mean that one or more of the Flyers' current defensemen do not fit in their plans.
All the Flyers' defensemen are expected to be healthy for training camp. They already have seven big-league defensemen under contract: Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Andrej Meszaros, Nick Grossmann, Luke Schenn, Erik Gustafsson, Bruno Gervais.
Streit, who shoots lefthanded, has relatively little wear on his tires, as he wasn't drafted by the Canadiens until he was 26. With the exception of his lost season in 2010-11, he has missed just 15 games over his previous seven NHL seasons. He has 288 points in 491 career games. Offensively, his two best seasons came in 2007-8, when he had 13 goals and 49 assists for Montreal, and 08-09, when his numbers were was 16-40 for the Islanders.
Since 2007, Streit has 0.66 points-per-game, ranking seventh among all defensemen during that time. He plays in a mold that is not all that different from Timonen - the Flyers' elder statesman - as a solid skater with an offensive mind, but he isn't known to be as dependable as Timonen in his own end.
It is not a slam-dunk guarantee that the Flyers and Streit will be able to come to terms. The Flyers also acquired the rights to Dan Hamhuis from Nashville in 2010, but moved his rights 6 days later at the NHL draft for a third-round pick once they couldn't sign him.
Harper, 24, was the other piece in the deal. He posted 10 points in 48 games with Adirondack this season, but didn't fit into the Flyers' long-term plans. He also played 15 games with the ECHL's Trenton Titans.