The Philadelphia Flyers are already over the salary cap limit for the 2013-14 season, so it only seemed logical to add another anchor to books by signing Mark Streit. The Flyers' latest folly makes little sense, and it proves that Paul Holmgren hasn't learned from his past mistakes.
Once the deal is official on July 5, Streit will have been signed to an over-35 contract that will pay him $5.25 million a year for the next four years according to ESPN. Not only is the deal risky, but it is a massive overpayment for a defender who has already started to decline.
The Flyers need help on defense, but this was not the move to be made.
Holmgren signed a veteran defender on the down swing of his career to a premier contract in a year when the salary cap is dropping. Let that set in for a minute. The Flyers are up against the cap, and their solution to this problem is adding a 35-year-old blueliner whose contract could come back to bite the team in a few years.
If Streit were to retire or get injured, his hefty cap hit would remain on the cap until the deal expired. It is an expensive risk that the Flyers will front, and they likely will erase another bad contract to add another.
How Will Flyers Pay For This?
The most laughable part of this contract is that initially the Flyers can't afford this. Here is an excerpt from the Courier Post that explains what the Flyers will have to do first.
The issue comes with what can fit within the salary cap’s upper limit. Teams are still operating under the 2012-13 salary cap of $70.2 million until July 5, at which point it becomes $64.3 million. The Flyers will need to shed salary before then, because their cap payroll is $69.812 million.
When the new cap is in play, teams can go over the upper limit by 10 percent until opening night, but July 5 is also the start of free agency this summer. If the Flyers don’t come to an agreement with Streit before then, they lose exclusivity in negotiations and the 10-percent buffer does them no good with him. Also, if the Flyers extend an offer sheet to a restricted free agent or send a qualifying offer to one of their own, that also counts against the cap.
In order to legally add his latest mistake to the roster, Holmgren will likely buyout Ilya Bryzgalov and Daniel Briere according to The Toronto Sun. Instead of clearing space and attempting to make moves during free agency, Holmgren chose to put his eggs all in one basket by adding Streit.
The Flyers needed to address their cap situation before doing anything this summer, and while buying out Bryzgalov and Briere would be a good step, adding Streit is a foolish move that has little upside. After the buyout, Holmgren will have 11 roster spots to fill, and just over $12 million in cap space to fill out the roster.
If the Flyers are going to be competitive they need to add good players, but that is going to be a tough task with limited funds. When looking at this deal it is hard to find a positive. The deal makes no financial sense, and it doesn't even address one of the Flyers' needs.
Streit Isn't a Defensive Defenseman, Is Declining
Since the departure of Matt Carle and the injury to Chris Pronger, the Flyers have needed a top defensive defenseman. They have needed someone who can anchor their blue line. They have good defensemen, but they don't have a top guy on their roster.
While Streit is a decent offensive defender, the Flyers already had an offensive-defenseman in Kimmo Timonen. Even further, the Flyers added a bottom-pairing defenseman who is now going to be paid to be a top-four defender.
According to The Hockey News, Streit "lacks ideal size for the blueline position at the NHL level. Will at times cough up the puck in the defensive zone. Injuries have hampered his career to some degree."
While there is no doubt that Streit can quarterback a power play or shoot a one-timer, he isn't the guy you want on the ice with a one-goal lead in the third period. Streit once could play that role, but that was during a time when the NHL was different.
What Flyers Could Have Done
If the Flyers wanted to bolster their depth, it would have been prudent to make an offer for upcoming UFA Rob Scuderi. Scuderi is a two-time Stanley Cup winner, a veteran leader and a defensive defenseman who would have fit in with the Flyers.
The Los Angeles Kings have budding defenders like Jake Muzzin and Slava Voynov who will play increased roles next season, so it is logical that Scuderi would be willing to join the Flyers.
If Scuderi wasn't an option, the Flyers still had more options. Instead of adding Streit, the Flyers could have dangled Sean Couturier or Brayden Schenn. While both are talented young players, in trades you need to give to get. If either were placed on the market, odds are that other general managers would be interested in making a trade.
This deal is already being dissected by Twitter, and here are some of the best tweets on the situation from various writers and bloggers.
Matt Carle 27-32, Mark Streit 35-39, very comparable cap hits.— Justin Bourne (@jtbourne) June 17, 2013
"He got HOW MUCH?! Get me Mark Streit's agent." -- Jonathan Bernier— Harrison Mooney (@HarrisonMooney) June 17, 2013
BREAKING: Mark Streit officially joins the cast of It's Always Money In Philadelphia.— Adam Proteau (@Proteautype) June 17, 2013
Overall the Flyers added a defenseman. While Streit will help the Flyers offensively and on the power play, they need defensive help. This is a deal that has no escape clause, and if Streit doesn't pan out it will be another horrendous contract attached to Holmgren's record as Flyers GM.