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 his age.
The Flyers acquired the rights to Islanders defenseman Mark Streit, 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 would begin negotiating with Holmgren on Wednesday afternoon. It did not seem as if the Flyers received permission to negotiate with Streit's group before acquiring his rights.
Streit, 35, was the Islanders’ captain for 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 last year, as he helped New York back to the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
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 come 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. 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 class in NHL free agency history.
For the Flyers, the more interesting figure may the term on any deal they hammer out with Streit. He’s already 35, so a long-term deal could come back to haunt the Flyers if Streit is unable to fulfill it. Streit has an injury history, missing the entire 2010-11 season due to a torn rotator cuff which required surgery. He hasn’t missed a game since.
A big money extension with Streit would likely 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 future plans. If healthy, which all were expected to be come training camp, the team already has seven big league defensemen under contract: Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Andrej Meszaros, Nick Grossmann, Luke Schenn, Erik Gustafsson and Bruno Gervais.
Adding Streit to the mix would make eight.
Streit has relatively little wear on his tires, as he wasn’t drafted by the Canadiens until he was 26. With the exception of his missed season in 2010-11, he’s missed just 15 games over his previous seven NHL seasons. He has 228 points in 491 career games. Since 2007, Streit has 0.66 points-per-game, ranking 7th 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 on a deal. The Flyers also acquired the rights to Dan Hamhuis from Nashville in 2010, but moved his rights six 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.
For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers