Four years, 21 million dollars; that's what it took General Manager Paul Holmgren to ink Mark Streit and make him a Flyer. The Flyers have already commenced their off-season over-haul of their blue-line, and the first move is an expensive one to say the least. Streit will have big expectations this season (and the three others that follow) to live up to his contract.
At first glance the deal is ridiculous. A 35-year old blue-liner who has not been anything exceptional over the past couple of season banking a deal with 5.25 per season over the next four seasons. But in reality, the deal isn't as bad as it originally appears. First off, bringing in Streit makes the Flyers a better team right off the hop next season. He moves the puck extremely well, is a veteran who can play big minutes and is a power play specialist. What is also relatively unknown is the fact that he has only been in the league seven years, so there is not as much wear and tear on him as most 35 year old defenders in the league.
Did the Flyers' overpay? Yes. There is no question about it, but market value must also be taken into consideration. Streit could have gotten a deal like this else where, so the Flyers knew they had to pay up big to keep the former all-star from testing the open market. Obviously a four year deal with 4.5 per year or a two year deal worth 5.25 per year would have been more ideal for an already cap-strapped Flyers team, but we have to remember it's a business, and the move undoubtedly makes the Flyers more of a contender short-term.
So with Streit now inked, what does this mean going forward. First off, we can expect Andrej Meszaros and Danny Briere gone. Briere will be the victim of an amnesty buy-out, while Mez will probably be shipped out for a pick to a squad looking to reach the cap-floor. Right there the Flyers would clear 10.5 million off the cap. Then come Ilya Bryzgalov, who's status still seems to be up in the air. A decision on Bryz will likely come once the Flyers access the situation after most deals are made.
One player who may be shopped is Braydon Coburn. He carries a 4.5 million cap hit over the next three seasons, and is coming off one of his worst campaigns as a Flyer. He would also bring a lot back in a deal to club that is seeking defensive help. He is still young, is a top-three defensemen and has a fairly low cap-hit.
So if the Flyers hypothetically ship out Mez, Coburn and Briere, what would Holmgren do to replace them. The Flyers would have Kimmo Timonen, Luke Schenn, Nicklas Grossmann, Bruno Gervais and Streit all locked up on defense next season. Expect the Flyers to re-up Erik Gustafsson as well for next season. That leaves the Flyers with four top-five guys and a six and seven defensemen in Gervais and Gus. Who could plug in to round out the top-six? It could be a drafted defenseman like Zadorov, Ristolainen or Nurse. It could be a free-agent signing like Ryan Whitney or Andrew Ference? Or will the Flyers make a dynamic splash and make a trade for Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk or Keith Yandle? The Flyers certainly have the pieces to acquire any one of the three (maybe not the Pietrangelo, but certainly the other two) with some of the players on their roster. The question is would Holmgren be willing to ship out Sean Couturier off in a deal. The Flyers could land Yandle for Coots and Coburn swap, but is it worth it?
Only time will tell what Paul Holmgren has up his sleeve, but one thing is for sure: This is just the beginning of Philadelphia's off-season.