The Philadelphia Flyers’ quest for defensive help continued on Wednesday, as GM Paul Holmgren announced he’d traded for the rights to New York Islanders blueliner Mark Streit.
“Mark is a player we would have had interest in on July 5th,” 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 an unrestricted free agent.”
In exchange, the Islanders receive prospect Shane Harper and a fourth-round pick at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
Streit, 35, was a key member of the Isles this year. He led all New York defensemen in scoring (27 points) and finished second on the team in power play points, with eight.
In the playoffs, he tied John Tavares for the team playoff scoring lead (five points) and averaged over 20 minutes a night.
Following the Islanders’ first-round exit against Pittsburgh, Streit told Newsday he wanted to return to New York as his five-year, $20.5 million deal was set to expire on July 5.
“I’ve said it all along, I want to be back,” he explained. “I love it here, I love Long Island and the organization has been great to me.”
But it appears for all that love talk, money got in the way.
The Islanders are believed to have made a three-year offer for the same $4.75 million per season that Lubomir Visnovsky accepted on the eve of the trade deadline (Visnovsky’s deal is for two years), but Streit is looking for north of $5.5 million per season.
With the free agent market for defensemen very thin, Streit could command $6 million per year and even possibly get a four-year deal. The Islanders wanted Streit back to keep the continuity Garth Snow has built, but the Isles GM is also not interested in busting his salary structure to keep Streit.
It’ll be interesting to see if Philadelphia can match Streit’s reported salary demands.
The Flyers are currently over $64.3 million cap for next season, with 24 players under contract and decisions pending on a number of veteran UFAs (that, to be frank, are probably not that high of a priority: Simon Gagne, Mike Knuble, Ruslan Fedotenko, Jody Shelley, Adam Hall, Matt Walker, Kurtis Foster and Kent Huskins).
Things get demonstratively better in 2014-15, when the Flyers project to be nearly $18 million under the cap, albeit with deals for Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier needing to get done.
Philly’s move to acquire Streit is the second of its kind in recent days.
Last week, the Dallas Stars traded for the rights to 39-year-old Ottawa defenseman Sergei Gonchar, then proceeded to sign the veteran blueliner to a two-year, $10 million deal.
Update: According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, Streit’s agent — Pat Brisson — is scheduled to meet with Holmgren later today to begin contract negotiations.