Streit Talk: Should the Canucks Pursue Mark Streit in Free Agency?

Thomas Drance
June 04 2013 11:45AM


Image via wikimedia commons.

It was reported by Arthur Staple of Newsday on Tuesday afternoon that Swiss born defenceman Mark Streit will not be re-signing with the New York Islanders before July 5th. Rather Streit will hit the open market as an unrestricted free-agent. A puck moving defenceman who can quarterback a power-play, Mark Streit has to be an intriguing piece for the Canucks. He's also a player the team reportedly pursued way back at the 2011-12 trade deadline.

Would Streit make sense for the Canucks to pursue? We'll get into it after the jump. 

Contract Status

Any contract Mark Streit signs will be of the "35+ variety," meaning that the deal would count against the cap even if Mark Streit were to retire before the expiration of the contract. Streit is coming off of a season in which he played all 48 games for the Cinderella Islanders, was second among Islanders defenceman in ice-time per game, and produced at a 46 point pace over an eighty-two game season. Needless to say it'll require more than a one year deal to entice a player like Streit to join your club this summer.

In fact, Newsday is suggesting that Streit is "looking for north of 5.5 million per season" on the open market this July. I suppose he's the only credible top-four defenceman on the open market so he might just get it. Obviously at that price there's no fit for the Caucks...

Even if Streit signs a deal valued at closer to the 4.5 million dollar internal cap for Canucks defenceman, the team would be assuming a good deal of risk if they inked the productive thirty-five year old defender. Adding to that risk is the fact that Streit's underlying numbers dipped significantly last season. Was that a blip, or a sign of an older defenceman losing a step?

Streit's Performance

Streit just put in his fifth straight season producing at a forty point per game rate as an NHLer. He's an excellent power-play quarterback, an efficient puck mover with both a heavy shot and an accurate wrister. Considering Vancouver's long battle with right-side bueline depth, and the fact that the Canucks power-play was miserable this season, Streit would seem to be something of a natural fit.

At five-on-five, however, there are some redflags that point to Mark Streit perhaps being on the downswing of his career. This past season Streit recieved favourable zone-starts at evens and played most often against secondary competition. He still finished below water by the possession data overall, and only narrowly above water in score close situations. Overall the Islanders were simply a better puck possession team when Streit on the bench last season.

Also by the time the postseason rolled around, Mark Streit was really playing third-pairing minutes at even-strength during the Penguins series...

Garik16 put together some fantastic zone entry data for the Islanders this season over at Light House Hockey. Here's his analysis on Mark Streit's neutral zone issues:

Mark Streit is....interesting. His individual #s are identical to Lubo's. His defensive #s aren't bad. So why is he below the break-even point? The problem appears to be his d-partners. Here's Streit's NZ Fenwick with various partners:

Carkner: 46.6%(17.4% of Streit entries)
Finley: 48.2%(14.1% of Streit entries)
Martinek: 49.9%(24% of Streit Entries)
Strait: 52.6%(23.1% of Streit Entries)

With Strait, Streit's NZ Performance - in a tiny sample mind you - was near Lubo-Hickey range. With Finley and Carkner it was abysmal (with Martinek it treaded water). Streit is still obviously a useful piece for neutral zone play - although he requires a not awful D partner - he just was saddled with awful baggage.

Looking over Mark Streit's large sample performance it appears that the four defenceman he's played with most often since the 2009-10 season include: Steve Staios, Bruno Gervais, Milan Jurcina and Andy MacDonald. I like Andy MacDonald's game a fair bit, but it's fair to describe Dan Hamhuis, Alex Edler and Jason Garrison as massive upgrades over Streit's Islanders defensive partners.

Overall I tend to think Mark Streit is a good bet to remain a productive offensive defenceman next season, and a reasonable bet to remain productive for another year after that. 

The Vancouver Fit

Mark Streit would be a really good fit for the Canucks power-play, and a modest fit for the club at even-strength. After all, Streit's five-on-five play appears to be falling off somewhat and Vancouver's issues with right-side blueline depth are ameliorated, I tend to think, by Jason Garrison's seamless adjustment to playing his off-side over the course of this past season. The Canucks now have Bieksa, Garrison, Tanev, Corrado as right-side defenceman, which is an embarrassment of riches, actually.

Moreover, the Canucks have bigger needs elsewhere (like finding a scoring winger or a third-line centre), and don't have much cap-space to be players in free-agency. Going off of salary cap information found at capgeek.comif we assume a Keith Ballard buyout (which I'd think is likely) and a Luongo trade in which the goaltender is moved without the Canucks taking on any salary commitments in returns (which I think is very unlikely), the Canucks would have a tick under ten million in salary-cap space with which to re-sign about eight players. So 1.25 million per player to fill out the roster if we use this extraordinarily favourable estimate...

The Canucks could sure use a power-play presence like Mark Streit. But he'd be a luxury item for a club that simply can't afford to buy a new Rolex this summer...

Used resources from behindthenet.ca, timeonice.comnhl.com and stats.hockeyanalysis.com.

Correction: the original post misidentified Mark Streit as a right-handed shot.

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#1 Canucksfan3322
June 04 2013, 11:48AM
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Forty points per game, sign him now.

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#2 NM00
June 04 2013, 12:03PM
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If Luongo & Ballard are off the books and it doesn't affect the Canucks' cap (big 'if'), wouldn't someone like Edler STILL need to be moved?

This sounds like the summer of 2010 all over again. Having 5 defenseman making over $4 million is poor cap management.

Not to mention this Luongo situation needs to be addressed BEFORE free agency opens up or the Canucks are simply not going to have the room to pursue quality free agents.

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#3 JCDavies
June 04 2013, 12:21PM
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I agree, so many things would need to happen for this to make sense.

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#4 Dwayne Bouliane
June 04 2013, 12:31PM
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He is a left handed shot.

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#6 Dwayne Bouliane
June 04 2013, 01:20PM
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Thomas Drance wrote:

@Dwayne excuse me. I've fixed it and made a note of the error in the post. He does often play the right-side though.

Wasn't sure if he played right side. Would be a good pp addition.

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#7 Lemming
June 04 2013, 05:46PM
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The 3rd defensive pairing is a lot like the 3rd and 4th lines. You want players who are effective, yet not that expensive. I tend to think no more than 2-2.5 per. I agree that having 5 4-5/per defensemen is a case of bad cap management.

Seriously, keep Alberts around and play him with Tanev (also, resign Tanev). Tanev can make anyone look good, and Alberts on his own is not a bad depth option, as he's shown the past couple of years.

I've tended to think that the problems with defensive coverage this year were not with the 3rd pairing, but the so-called "better" defensemen who play in our top-4. Obviously Hamhuis was generally fine, but Bieksa and Edler in particular had some pretty rough times in the defensive zone.

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