Putting On The Foil with @jsaquella: Streit Shooter
Editors’ Note: Noted Philadelphia Flyers fan John Saquella is going beyond 140 characters. The man most of you probably know from social media as @jsaquella will bring you his wide-ranging opinion and commentary on the Orange and Black in his column Putting On The Foil.
By John Saquella (@jsaquella)
The Flyers traded a 2014 4th round draft choice and journeyman minor league winger Shane Harper to the New York Islanders in exchange for the rights to former all-star defenseman Mark Streit.
Streit will fill a need, but he is subject to the NHL’s over 35 rules when the Flyers sign him to a new deal. The Flyers have been burned by the over 35 rule before, having to place Ian Laperriere on LTIR for a full season after the gritty winger suffered a career ending concussion. They also will be carrying Chris Pronger for the foreseeable future because of the same rule.
The good news, in Streit’s case, is that he’s been pretty durable. He’s played in every game in 3 of the last 4 seasons, but did miss the entire 2010-11 season after tearing the labrum in his shoulder in practice.
I’d like to look at Streit’s pros and cons and how the trade could impact the Flyers. I’m not drinking, so I won’t be foolish enough to try and predict what the rest of the offseason holds for the Flyers.
Streit is a very good power play QB, with a good shot and is an exceptional puck carrier. He’s a solid skater, although he’s not going to win any speed contests. He’s capable in the transition game and has good offensive instincts. Ideally he’ll set up in the second pair with Braydon Coburn or Luke Schenn and provide the kind of puck moving ability that was lacking during the lost 2013 season.
While he’s not a shut down defender, Streit has shown an ability to be competent in his own end. His lack of size hurts here, because he’s not as good at using positioning as Kimmo Timonen, nor is he as solid in the physical area as the rugged little Finn. Pairing Streit with Schenn or Coburn will hopefully minimize his deficiencies in this regard.
While I detest trading assets for negotiation rights, in this case, Paul Holmgren didn’t sacrifice much. Harper really hasn’t sniffed the NHL during his 3+ pro seasons. He’s bounced from the AHL to the ECHL and back. A 4th round pick is also a minor asset to get a jump on signing a needed free agent before the ball drops on July 5th.
Now, for the negatives. There’s a few of course, because you don’t get a decent player for such a small return unless there’s an issue or two.
As stated before, Streit’s age is a concern. He is reportedly seeking a 4 year deal for around $5mm per year. Obviously that’s a significant cap commitment for a second pair defenseman of advancing years and somewhat declining numbers. Obviously, if Streit was a “plus” defensive player, this particular trouble spot wouldn’t be as big a deal, but he’s not.
The next area of concern is obviously his defensive ability. The most common adjective used for Streit’s defensive game is “adequate”. That’s why my preference would be to play Streit with Braydon Coburn, who is solid defensively and also has better mobility than Schenn or Nik Grossmann. If Coburn’s game is back on track, he’ll be an ideal partner for Streit.
The two negatives are fairly big concerns, but if Streit stays healthy and continues to play at the level he has since he returned from his injury, he’ll be a solid addition.
One final thought on Streit and the cap impact, as well as the depth chart. It’s obvious that the Flyers will be utilizing at least one of their compliance buy outs, if not both. Personally, I would use both this summer and part ways with Danny Briere and Ilya Bryzgalov. Briere has scored some huge goals for the Flyers and he’s been a good mentor, allowing Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier to stay with him and ease the transition to the NHL. But Briere’s cap hit and limited versatility have him doomed.
Bryzgalov is a different case. He’s played well at times, but the overall theme of his tenure has been inconsistency. He’s followed brilliance with baffling stretches where he can’t make a momentum save. The circus around him isn’t a big deal to me, so long as it doesn’t become a distraction. The bottom line is that Bryzgalov hasn’t played well enough to justify the commitment made to him by the team. The long term issues of cap recapture (in case of early retirement, even if he’s traded) leave a buyout as the only option. My doubts about his ability to correct the issues, combined with the possibility of injury have me pulling the trigger now, rather than waiting until next summer.
Now, as to how this is relevant to Streit, the Flyers are in cap hell. They’ll need to buy out at least Briere to fit Streit in under the cap. Even if the utilize both buyouts, they still face a bit of a crunch, assuming Streit gets between $4.5m-$5m per season.
There’s also a bit of a numbers crunch on the blueline. With Streit’s addition, the Flyers have a lot of money tied into 5th, 6th and 7th defensemen. Assuming the pairs look like this:
The Flyers will have as much as $7mm committed to their third defense pair. Given Andrej Meszaos’ health issues over the past couple seasons, his $4m cap hit could be a luxury the Flyers can’t afford. I think it’s very possible we’ll see a defenseman moved to free up money sometime around the draft. That is, of course, assuming that Grossmann is doing better in his recovery from concussion symptoms that prematurely ended his 2013 season.
The Flyers also have veteran Bruno Gervais around as a spare piece, as well as big Oliver Lauridsen, who played solidly as a rookie. I’d give Lauridsen a chance to win a spot in the top 6, but assuming he didn’t lock it down, I would send him to the AHL and utilize him as a seventh defenseman, recalling him and playing him ahead of Gervais. Obviously Grossmann’s status affects Lauridsen, too.
In closing, it’s very likely the Flyers kicked a lot of tires over the past few weeks, and ultimately decided that the cost for players like Keith Yandle, Kevin Shattenkirk, Erik Johnson and Alexander Edler were prohibitive and decided to go the “cheaper” route and get Streit, who fills a need and allows the Flyers to retain their prized young forwards, especially Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn.
But, it is the Flyers were talking about here, and going out and trading for Yandle a few days after landing Streit would be the most Flyer thing in the world.
Buckle up, it’s going to be an interesting summer.