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by Jason Lockhart / New York Islanders
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Mark Streit
Photos by Rich Stieglitz
By the time an NHL player is 26-years old, he is usually a seasoned veteran in North America's top hockey league. For Mark Streit, one of the Islanders' offseason signings, he was first getting drafted.
A native of Switzerland, Streit began his playing career in his own country, dreaming of one day making the NHL. After being passed up in the NHL Draft when he became eligible at 17, Streit continued to stay in Switzerland, honing his offensive skills while on the blueline, mirroring his game after players like Paul Coffey and Bobby Orr.
"Those guys were my idols, along with Reijo Ruotsalainen, who was a Finnish defenseman that played in my home town and in the NHL," said Streit. "I saw him fly over the ice, making plays, moving the puck, and just dominating. It was always my goal to play like that.”
Streit had limited opportunities to show NHL scouts he was good enough to play in North America. It was primarily during international tournaments that Streit had scouts watching his games.
In 1998-99, Streit produced his highest point total in the Swiss Elite League and scored four goals in six games during the World Championship, prompting him to receive a shot in North America. Streit played a game with the Utah Grizzlies of the IHL before joining the Springfield Falcons of the AHL. But without a two-way contract, Streit was the odd-man out when the team had too many players. He ended the season in the ECHL and decided to head back to Switzerland.
Checking the Internet each year on draft day, Streit waited for another shot. Finally, in 2004, the Montreal Canadiens selected Streit in the ninth round (262nd overall).
"It's good for young players in Switzerland to know that if you work hard and get a little lucky, you can get your chance," said Streit. "It doesn't matter how good you are at 18 or 19. It only matters how good you are when you're 25 or 30. It's never too late to give up your dreams."
Following the lockout, Streit joined the Canadiens, and has been improving his point total each year, culminating with 13 goals and 49 assists for 62 points in 81 games during the 2007-08 season. Streit was used as a forward at even strength for some games, but would then be put on the point on the power play.
"I really love to play defense because I love the position and was a defenseman my whole life," said Streit. "That's what I want to do. With the ability I have I can help the team the most as a defenseman. I'm really excited to be here and I can't wait to start the season."

Click here to watch IslandersTV videos from Training Camp
More from Moncton:

- Click here for Moncton Memos: Day 3
- Click here for Moncton Memos: Day 2
- Click here for Moncton Memos: Day 1
- Players Arrive in Moncton
- Training Camp Primer, Part 1:  Defensemen and Goalies
- Training Camp Primer, Part 2:  Forwards

- Click here for Bridgeport Sound Tigers coverage

Click here to “Ask and Islander”

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