If Mark Streit Contract Negotiations with Islanders Stalled, Do You Trade?

Still into you, but let's be real here. - Christopher Pasatieri

There will be fun, fun, fun till daddy takes the deadline away.

The looming organizational decision for the New York Islanders on what to do with captain Mark Streit has taken another turn, according to TSN's Darren Dreger. Via a pair of tweets from Dreger this morning:

Mark Streit is unlikely to agree to extension with NYI. Isles may keep him for playoff race, but unless there's change, Streit will be a UFA.

With Streit negotiation stalled, expect teams to make a play for trade. Isles don't want to trade him. Could change overnight.

Standard "two parties are engaged in leverage negotiations, thus they want you to believe they're willing to walk" caveats apply.

It's the trade deadline, so we may have another reporter hear something completely different, particularly ones who follow the Isles much more closely. Dreger's "could change overnight" pretty much applies to every NHL trade deadline update until the clock strikes 3 p.m. Wednesday.

However, this dynamic is exactly the kind of leverage play from both sides we described in the trade deadline primer: Though he's the captain, Streit's on-ice importance to the Islanders has decreased and is only likely to lessen over time. Yet the Isles do still want to hang on to him.

That combo of factors puts contract extension talks in a weird place -- a place where one side or the other is willing to leak to media, "Oh, we're totally ready to not do this."

Other potential factors:

  • Streit could want to test the market this summer, maybe join a perennial contender.
  • Streit might want as much money as Lubomir Visnovsky got, even though Vis has been better this season. Visnovsky's extension pays him handsomely, but it is short-term risk.
  • Streit is 35. His next contract, a 35+ deal, will solidify the cap hit even if he retires.
  • The Isles could want to keep Streit, but only at a cost and term that allows them to graduate his replacements within a couple of years.
  • Streit knows that, at least with P.A. Parenteau last year, they held on to a pending UFA past the trade deadline even without an extension in the belief he would help the playoff push. Is he calling their bluff?
  • The trade market for defensemen has been kind of inflated.

It sets up a fun dynamic with the Isles playing last night and tonight on the eve of the deadline. Do the Isles want to muddy their playoff push by dealing their captain who has been here for five seasons? And is that precisely the situation Streit's agent is banking on as he tries to squeeze a little more from the team?

Personally, I still believe Streit has a lot to offer this team. But I know he's no longer in peak form and could possibly decline further over the next two years, to say nothing of a longer 35+ term. Snow should hold a tough line on salary/term, as the Isles don't exactly owe Streit for time served. I hope they can still work something out, but if Streit and his agent want to test the market this summer, Snow should deal him ASAP.

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