From the failure that was the 2012-2013 Philadelphia Flyers season, defense emerged as the obvious Achilles heel. Goaltending was also to blame for the 23-22-3 season, but a lack of steady talent along the blue line will frustrate even the best goaltender. Aiming to correct the lackluster defense, Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren inked unrestricted free agent and former New York Islander Mark Streit to a four-year, $21 million contract. While Flyers fans were excited about the acquisition, the signing of Streit is not enough to fix the Flyers’ defensive woes.
At the conclusion of the 2012-2013 season, the Flyers ranked 23rd in goals against. In 48 games, the Flyers allowed 139 goals, averaging out to 2.9 goals per game for opposing teams. Opponents also averaged 28.2 shots on goal per game. While some of these goals can be attributed to poor goaltending on behalf of Ilya Bryzgalov, the Russian net-minder was left out to dry on numerous occasions. Teamed with a streaky offense Flyers fans were doomed to suffer through a forgettable season.
Streit is an improvement, and he will help the Flyers defense. But the depth of his effectiveness remains to be seen. The Swiss defender has accrued 65 goals and 223 assists in 491 NHL games. At 35 years old, he hasn’t missed a single game in the past three seasons. Durability was severely lacking on the Flyers defense last season. He can be counted on game after game, and his ability to read an offense is impressive.
Streit is no doubt talented. But a team that ranks 23rd in goals against requires more than one talented player, especially when that new player is an aging defender earning $5.25 million per season. Few defenders are skilled enough to patch the Flyers defense single-handedly — almost-Flyer Shea Weber comes to mind.
If Holmgren continues his aggressive management, the Flyers are likely to make another move before the season begins. With any luck, he’ll be able to acquire an affordable, skilled defender without losing an arm and a leg in the process. While Streit brings hope to the blue line, the Flyers will need more defensive talent and have until the season opener on October 2 to get it.