Now that everyone is furious with this horrible Mark Streit signing, it’s my job to settle everyone down. Or at least attempt to.
I want to start off by pointing out that we got the best possible player on the market to fix the biggest hole we had in our lineup: a puck moving defensemen. The two key things to take away from that last sentence are: quality addition for 2013-14, no subtractions. Are there better defenders on the trade market? Of course. Could we acquire them without giving up assets? Nope.
The first of three positives I want to point out is the fact that Mark Streit is a young 35 if there ever was one. He’s only played in 491 career NHL games. He played overseas before he came to the NHL, but the league he was in only had a 44 game schedule and was nowhere near the grind of the NHL (he played in the “Swiss-A League”). In addition to the fact he’s played less than 500 NHL regular season games, he’s only played 18 career post-season games.
Positive number two has to deal with the fact that Streit is a very good puck-mover. Check out this table:
(Also note the lack of games played Streit has compared to the much younger names on the list)
He’s got the fourth highest points per game for active defenders, behind only Gonchar, Green, and Boyle. And it’s not as if he’s hit his true decline yet. Streit had .56 PPG last year and was right around the same place the year before.
Now that we know Mark Streit is an elite point producer in today’s game, I wanted to see how he compared to other players who put up similar PPG numbers---and then see how those players faired in the end of their careers. Streit has a .587 PPG. I compiled data for all defenders who had similar career PPG numbers (.62-.525, skewed to have more players of lesser PPG numbers to lower the total expectation for Streit) and had at roughly a half point per game in their 35 AND 36 year old season (Streit just played his 35 year old season).
The results were honestly, shocking, and in a good way. Only a select handful of defensemen were able to be point producers in their 35 and 36 year-old seasons. Check out this table below:
|Career PPG%||35P||35G||35 PPG||36P||36G||36 PPG||37P||37G||37 PPG||38P||38G||38 PPG||39P||39G||39 PPG|
The table is pretty simple. It’s each individuals yearly stats displayed horizontally. The number is the season, meaning “35” is the player’s 35th year old season. Eight players had 35 year-old seasons like Mark Streit in which they lit up the stat sheet and they wanted to play at least one more year. From there the results vary, but as you can see, 6 of the 8 played a third year, 3 of those 6 played a fourth year, and those three who played a fourth year also played a fifth year. As for the breakdown? But look at the names on that list! Its a who's who of hall of famers.
y=-2.1578x + 52.012 , r^2= .42906
With elite puck-moving defenders, the drop off starts around the 38-year-old season, which would be Mark Streit’s third of four year. The good news is that the drop-off in points isn’t that great, and that there is a bounce back in the 39th year, which could help prove the 38th year to be more of a blip in the road than anything else, it does have the smallest sample size (it also has to do with Chris Chelios's 24 game, 3 point injury plagued season).
Another interesting thing is that five of the eight guys are roughly the same size as Streit is. The smaller, compact frame could help these defenders age like a fine wine. Lastly, I’d want to point out that with the exception of Pronger, each of these guys left the game on their own terms---meaning they retired when they still had skill to their games. Niedermayer’s last year he had 48 points in 80 games, Rafalsky had 48 in 63, and a few others played into their forties. Mark Streit will not be the same player when he is 39 as he was when he was 36, but assuming he stays healthy he should be able to maintain 40+ points per year, albeit playing sheltered competition.
The main argument to this deal will be that it’s not the player, it’s the contract. Understandable, but we should get pretty decent value for the first two years, and by the last two years, the cap will have gone up which dilutes the percent of the cap it takes up. Don’t get me wrong there is downside to this move, but it’s a high risk, high reward play. For the short term, he’s one of the best available defenders and we didn’t have to give anything to get him. I’m not saying this was the perfect move at the right price, but I am saying the Flyers will be a better hockey team this year for it.
As for how it impacts the defense this year, it solidifies our top-4. I'd imagine the pair of Timonen and Luke Schenn will stick together which puts Streit with Coburn, which is a huge upgrade over Bruno Gervais. Gustafsson and Grossman should have the third pair to lose with Gervais, Meszaros, Brandon Manning and Oliver Lauridsen battling for the seventh spot. Considering Coburn and Grossman have modified no trade clauses, that leaves Meszaros as the front runner to get traded. I wouldn't be surprised if the Flyers moved two of those three guys to clear cap and make room for Manning or Lauridsen. If I'm in charge I'm shopping Matt Read with Andrej Meszaros. They carry roughly five million dollars against the cap (6.5ish salary) and are both in their contract years. Read will get a raise and Mez will take a pay cut or be let go. I'd also be shopping Grossman, I don't see his purpose at 3.6 million with his injury history (and his lack of ability to drive play).