Having acquired the rights to former New York Islanders captain Mark Streit on Wednesday, the Philadelphia Flyers are looking to sign the veteran defenseman to a new contract -- and early reactions indicate Streit is eager to make a deal.
"Obviously I'm excited to get traded to Philadelphia," Streit, 35, told the Flyers website. "… Philly has an unbelievable team. It's a great franchise and a great city and it's a hockey town for sure. The fans there are great, and that's why I always liked playing in Philly. The team is really good. It's well-structured. It's young and fast and it would be a great honor to play for the Flyers."
The Flyers traded minor-league forward Shane Harper and a fourth-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft to the Islanders for a chance to sign Streit before NHL free agency begins next month.
"Mark is a player we would have had interest in on July 5," Philadelphia general manager Paul Holmgren said in a statement. "We now have exclusive negotiating rights, and we are hopeful that we can get an agreement in place prior to him becoming [an unrestricted free agent]."
Signing Streit would provide some much-needed security and experience for the Flyers' blue line, as well as a boost for the offense. Streit had six goals and 21 assists in 2012-13 and added three goals and two assists during the Islanders' six-game Stanley Cup Playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Flyers defensemen Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Andrej Meszaros and Nicklas Grossman were sidelined with injuries last season, so Streit's durability (he played at least 74 games five straight seasons from 2006-10, missed 2010-11 with a shoulder injury but played every game in 2011-12 and '12-13) would be an important consideration.
The eight-year NHL veteran has been captain of the Islanders for the past two season and wore the "C" for Team Switzerland at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Streit's experience and ability to lead would be beneficial to the Flyers, who failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season.
"I'm not going to just walk into the locker room and [take control]. You have to blend in a little bit …," Streit said. "But I've always wanted to be a guy to lead on the ice. I've been around for a while and I've been a captain on different teams. So, yes, I bring leadership, and that's what I like to do. But I'll do whatever it takes to make the team better, because at the end of the day you want to win as a team."
Although the Islanders and Streit failed to reach a deal, he doesn't seem too interested in testing the free-agent market.
"I think that maybe [the Flyers] need a few days or weeks, but I'm pretty positive," Streit said of contract talks with Philadelphia. "The future is bright. They were in the Cup Finals three years ago and there is so much skill and a great mix between veteran players and young players, so I'm pretty confident and I truly hope it's going to get done soon."
Streit could reunite with former defensive partner Bruno Gervais and would be joining a team he feels has the potential to win it all, the ultimate draw for any player.
"It's no question to me. I believe the Flyers will be in the playoffs next year," Streit said. "They have the skill and the physical part of it. It's a great group and I'd love to join that team."