We discussed Mark Streit plenty yesterday, and we'll discuss him plenty more today as the New York Islanders face the prospect of passing through the NHL trade deadline without having their captain's name on a contract beyond this season.
Last night, two media sources provided more detail on the reported stall in extension talks with the Isles trying to get Streit's name on a three-year deal:
- Arthur Staple of Newsday had sources saying Garth Snow is unlikely to deal Streit unless he gets a very substantial offer -- so, say, a first-round pick.
- The TSN Tradecentre desk discussed negotiations, believing that the Isles had offered a three-year extension with a raise over his current $4.1 million salary, but suggesting Streit's camp wanted something more in the "mid-$5 million" range.
- UPDATE, Wed. a.m. - Dreger now adds: "Snow says has no intention of trading Mark Streit. $500,000 gap per year (3 yrs) in contract talks with his captain."
This brings us to additional questions...
Does Streit deserve more than Visnovsky?
Salaries: Lubomir Visnovsky's extension pays him $9.5 million over two years, with $3.5 million next season and $6 million in the following season. As mentioned, Streit's expiring five-year deal pays him $4.1 million.
Offense: Streit has been collecting points at a slightly higher rate (20 in 37 games) than Lubo (10 in 25). Streit logs slightly more ice time (23:56 vs. 23:03). On the other hand, Visnovsky's underlying rates (like Corsi) are tops on the team by a large margin. Both have been key to the Islanders powerplay this season.
(Although, with just 11 games left this late in the season, it's helpful to remember our samples of Present Day Streit is only 37 games, and Present Day Lubo is just 25.)
Defense: Neither is a physical defender, though Streit is arguably more of a bulldog, even if he's been less of one since his shoulder injury. The nature of the position is that you get victimized from time to time, but this year at least it's looked like Streit has had more errors in his own zone.
Age: Streit is actually a year and a half younger than Visnovsky. Lubo turns 37 this summer; Streit turns 36 next December. Visnovsky has battled a few nagging injuries in his career; Streit's only real injury was that shoulder destruction that cost him 2010-11.
Comparables: Here is where you can sympathize with Streit if he wants to test the market: Dennis Wideman will make an average of $5.25 million the next five years. Matt Carle and James Wisniewski are each on five-year deals that average $5.5 million per year. Obviously, Streit's camp isn't crazy to think he might fetch the same.
In "soft" factors, perhaps Streit deserves some consideration for being a five-year player and captain, while Lubo, you know, didn't report on time.
So performance-wise, it's not hard to argue that Visnovsky has been the more important Islander on the ice this season. However, there's no guarantee that would continue. Visnovsky is older, and in their late 30s a precipitous decline could be around the corner at any moment.
Regardless of whether he deserves it...should the Isles pay it to him anyway?
There are a few factors weighing on the Isles for this question:
Money -- They're a budget team who probably wants to allocate only so much to their blueline. Travis Hamonic is due an RFA raise this summer -- do the Isles want that plus as much as $10 million tied up in two other defensemen?
Depth -- This is an area we don't know, but ... how well do the Islanders think existing defensemen and prospects can replace Streit? Is Matt Donovan ready, and if not, do they expect him to be? There is also the matter of more recent draftees like Griffin Reinhart, Andrei Pedan and Ville Pokka likely to push for jobs during the next two to three years.
That's what this issue comes down to: Do the Islanders think they can thrive without Streit, either for the rest of this season or in the seasons to come?
It's quite possible the Islanders see Streit as essential to this year's playoff push, but not so essential that they need to lock him up at a huge price and term. If that's the case, we can mourn the missed chance to pick up another asset, but in the team's eyes a playoff appearance would no doubt be worth that opportunity cost.
Meanwhile, it's possible Streit wants to make sure his final payday is a big one. He was a late bloomer, so in a way he has ground to make up. He's older but he's hardly washed up -- and several good defnsemen have remained so into their age 38 seasons.
If players learned anything from the most recent lockout, it's that they need to make their money while they can, and the owners can claim "loyalty" one moment and "it's a business" the next. It would be tough if Streit prices himself out of the Isles plans, but I'd understand. Likewise, if Snow decided the club needs to move on.