According to Newsday, New York Islander captain Mark Streit will not be returning to Long Island in the fall. The 35-year-old defenseman rejected a three-year deal to the tune of about $5 million a season and will test the free agent market after the fireworks are done on July 5.
Prior to the end of the season, Streit had stated that he would like to remain with the Islanders, but is looking to earn more than the team is willing to shell out for his services. In the summer of 2008, Streit left the Montreal Canadians to ink a five-year, 20.5 million dollar deal with the Islanders, making him the second highest paid Swiss professional athlete. Before the start of the 2011-12 campaign, he became the first Swiss-born player to be named a captain in the NHL.
However, since the free agent shelves won’t be stocked with many defensemen this summer, Streit could command a higher and a longer term contract from other teams.
The New Jersey Devils may want to take a look at Streit even though the team carried eight defensemen last season. Henrik Tallinder and Anton Volchenkov who were signed as free agents in 2010 have never really paid dividends for the Devils and really should be shopped around. Marek Zidlicky could be the offensive defenseman the team needs, but he made quite a few costly errors on the blueline last year.
Zidlicky netted $4 million last season and is set to become a free agent as well this summer if a deal is not worked out. While he has indicated he would like to stay in the Garden State, there have not been any contract discussions as of yet with General Manager Lou Lamoriello.
While the Devils have some young defensemen like Adam Larsson in the wings, they seem to need some guidance. Streit, who has been a mentor to Islander hot shot John Tavares since he arrived in the big leagues, could be the steadying presences they need.
It is definitely time for some changes for the Devils. After a 13-year string of post season appearances, the club has missed the playoffs for two of the last three years. When Andy Greene is your top guy on the blue line, it is time to get some new blood.
Streit might be just what the doctor ordered for the Devils, but the question is, can they afford him?