Bill Meltzer: Meltzer’s Musings: Streit, Three Franchise-Changing Trades

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STREIT NEEDS TO EXCEL IN SECOND SEASON

If the Philadelphia Flyers are to make the playoffs again in 2014-15, veteran defenseman Mark Streit will need to stay healthy and have a highly productive season. With Kimmo Timonen likely unavailable for much or all of the season, the 36-year-old Streit will assume much of Timonen’s on-ice and off-ice leadership mantle.

The off-ice part should not difficult for Streit. The former Islanders captain quietly became one of the Flyers’ calming influences over the course of last season. Streit has a good hockey mind and is an honest spokesperson about the state of the team. Invariably, Streit is focused on building from positives, learning from negatives and keeping the team on task. He is much like Timonen in those regards.

A bigger challenge for Streit: He is probably going to see an increased workload this season, in the absence of Timonen. Streit, who averaged 20:39 of ice time in his first season with the Flyers, will move from the second power play unit to the top unit. Always an offensive-minded defenseman with an explosive shot from the point, Streit is used to the responsibilities that the assignment entails.

Rather quietly, Streit ended up having a good offensive season in 2013-14. He got off to a slow start but picked up his production in December. Streit was exceptionally good offensively down the stretch. He posted 10 points in the final eight games of the regular season, 15 points and a plus-six rating over the final 23 games). Streit finished the regular season with a solid 10 goals, 34 assists and 44 points while dressing in all 82 games.

Overall, four of Streit’s goals and 11 of his assists came on the power play. Seven of his 10 goals came on the road. He had 22 points apiece in home and away games but Streit was a plus-10 at home and minus-seven on the road.

Streit was arguably the Flyers best all-around defenseman in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal loss to the New York Rangers. Although never known as more than an adequate defender, Streit elevated the defensive part of his game in the postseason while also posting one goal and three points in the seven-game series.

Streit is never going to be a shutdown defender, nor is he Timonen’s equal as a two-way defenseman. However, Streit is also not a disaster defensively.

He gives up size to many attackers and is not exceptionally fast, but he has good hockey sense and competes. It’s when he pushes the envelope a little too much offensively and gets caught on the wrong side of the puck that he gets in trouble. Likewise, there are some players he simply isn’t big or strong enough to deal with around the net. He can compensate for some of it with good positioning and a quick stick but there will always be matchups that are tough for him.

Come next season, Streit is likely to face a higher quality of competition than he did in 2013-14. Additionally, Streit had the luxury of starting 53.6 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone in 2013-14.

Streit’s usage last season was closer to the ideal way of deploying someone of his strengths and limitations. Unfortunately, Craig Berube won’t have that luxury next season. Streit will likely be called up to start more shifts outside the offensive zone, and against tougher opposing lines.

Much of added defensive burden in Timonen’s absence is probably going to fall on Andrew MacDonald and Braydon Coburn, but those two already see a high quality of competition. As a result, there’s going to be trickle-down effect to players like Streit and Nicklas Grossmann without Timonen available to play his accustomed all-situations role. Last season, only Luke Schenn faced a lower overall difficulty of matchups among Flyers than Streit.

Streit will also likely have to take on a little more significant penalty killing role in 2014-15. New acquisition Michael Del Zotto probably will not kill penalties very often. When any of Coburn, MacDonald, Grossmann or Schenn are in the penalty box, Streit’s PK time will increase.

If the Flyers are to have a successful 2014-15 season, Streit is going to have to be one of players who leads the way. He will have to consistently play at a level similar to his stretch drive and playoff performance of last season rather than how he performed in the majority of the first half. That is a lot to ask of a player who will turn 37 in December, but it is an opportunity for Streit to have a highly prominent role in the second season of his four-year contract. TODAY IN FLYERS HISTORY: AUGUST 20

Three of the biggest trades in Flyers’ franchise history took place on the August 20 calendar date.

In 1982, the Flyers made a blockbuster deal with the Hartford Whalers. Philadelphia received defenseman Mark Howe and a 1983 third-round pick (Derrick Smith). The return cost was high, but ultimately worthwhile in order to land the best defenseman in club history.

Philly had to package its 1981-82 leading scorer, Ken Linseman, highly regarded prospect Greg Adams, a 1983 first-round draft pick (David Jensen) and a 1983 third-round pick (Leif Karlsson). The inclusion of Adams in the package was nearly a deal-breaker at the time — which is kind of comical in historical hindsight — but the club did not want to let the opportunity to land Howe slip away.

On this date in 1997, the Flyers completed their acquisition of Chris Gratton by sending Mikael Renberg and Karl Dykhuis to Tampa Bay in exchange for the four first-round draft picks Tampa received from the Flyers as compensation for not matching Philly’s offer sheet to the restricted free agent center.

One of the first-round picks Philly got back ended up being used for the 1998 selection of Simon Gagne. Sadly, Renberg’s run of horrible luck with injuries would continue in Tampa Bay and during his subsequent return to Philadelphia.

Tomorrow’s blog will look at Renberg. Prior to his spate of his major injuries, Renberg did MUCH more than simply ride the coattails of Eric Lindros and John LeClair as the “third” member of the Legion of Doom line. Unfortunately, Renberg suffered one serious and ill-timed injury after another, and was never the same player again. People who remember him as anything less than a burgeoning NHL star who simply ran repeatedly into horrendous luck injury-wise do not know the full story.

On this date in 2001, the Flyers finally brought the Lindros era to an end after the concussion-riddled and disgruntled former team captain sat out of the 2000-01 season while awaiting a trade. Ultimately, the Flyers traded Lindros to the New York Rangers; the same team against him the Flyers had to win an arbitrator’s ruling to acquire Lindros from the Quebec Nordiques in 1992 after the Nordiques traded Lindros’ rights twice on the same day.

In return, the Flyers received defenseman Kim Johnsson, forwards Jan Hlavac and Pavel Brendl plus a 2003 third-round pick (Stefan Ruzicka) from the Rangers. Under the circumstances, the Flyers ended up doing well for themselves. There was zero chance they could land a package equal to the king’s ransom they had paid to the Nordiques nine years early.

Johnsson ended up becoming the team’s top defenseman for a few years before he, too, suffered a serious of concussions and other injuries that limited his effectiveness and availability. Hlavac only played for the Flyers briefly before he was traded for enforcer Donald Brashear. The once highly-touted Brendl was a bust.

In the meantime, Lindros began a slow but steady concussion-related decline in his post-Flyers career. He would no longer be a perennial Hart Trophy candidate.

This post originally appeared on www.hockeybuzz.com and we thank them for permission to rebroadcast it here.

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