The New York Islanders bolstered their anemic power play today by signing free agent point man Mark Streit to a five-year contract worth $20.5 million.
Much like last month's NHL Draft, General Manager Garth Snow did not tip his hand with this move. Snow repeatedly stressed that the Islanders would not be very active in the free agent market. The signing of Streit therefore came as a pleasant surprise for most fans of the club.
While Streit is not a star player, he most certainly will make an impact on a team badly in need of scoring and skill. Most of the recent talk surrounding the Islanders and offensive defensemen involved Ron Hainsey and former Isle Bryan McCabe.
As mentioned by Greg Logan on his Newsday blog, Streit put up as many points from the blue line as Brian Campbell did last year.
Streit will be 31 years old in December, so perhaps it was the length of the contract that put the Islanders' bid over the top. But in comparison to the Campbell contract, the Isles could get great value out of this deal.
One column from this past January speculated that Streit's worth was around $2 million per season. The Islanders are sure to receive some criticism for paying him twice that amount.
However, this was one of those situations where if the GM really wanted the player (and it appears that Snow did), he had to do what was necessary to get the player. It's the same reasoning that justified the Mets giving Pedro Martinez a fourth year.
Streit, from Switzerland, has played only three seasons in the NHL. But his adjustment to the league has been swift. His point totals have risen from 11 to 36 points and finally to 62 this past year. He posted 34 points on the power play for the Canadiens in 2007-08 (7 goals, 27 assists).
Before joining Montreal for the 2005-06 season, Streit did accumulate some experience with North American minor league hockey. In 1999-00, he made appearances in all three of the ECHL, IHL, and AHL.
It's worth noting that Streit has seen some time as a forward and that may have inflated his point totals to some degree.
Islanders Director of Pro Scouting Ken Morrow told Islanders TV that Streit will most likely be spending his time on the blue line for the Isles. Morrow also noted that Streit's mobility makes him a model player for today's NHL.
The addition of Streit should relieve some of the pressure on young defenseman Chris Campoli, who was seen by many as the team's best hope for a point threat with the man advantage.
The presence of Streit also makes it less likely that Jack Hillen will crack the top six on defense. In addition, fan favorite Bruno Gervais may be on the outside looking in. Of course, if last year is any indication, injuries will doubt permit both to see plenty of time on the Nassau Coliseum ice.