Middletown, N. J. – Arthur Staple, New York Islanders beat reporter for Newsday, is reporting that multiple sources are confirming former captain Mark Streit will not return to the club for the 2013-14 season, instead opting for free agency, which begins on July 5.
General manager Garth Snow reportedly made a very attractive offer to keep Streit on the Islanders blueline, matching Lubomir Visnovsky‘s annual salary of 4.75 million and going out to a third year which seemed to be the one detail that Mark and his agent coveted the most. Well, apparently not.
I, for one, will always credit Streit for signing here during the rebuild years and seeing his contract through with no moans and groans that seem to permeate professional locker rooms in identical situations. But the fact of the matter is his skills have been steadily declining over the past two seasons since the torn labrum he suffered and had surgery on three seasons ago.
He seemed a step slow this season on numerous occasions and especially in the first round of the playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Turnovers were plentiful and in his last 130 games as an Islander, Mark racked up an un-impressive -41 rating.
The offer that Snow made to retain his services was, quite honestly, more than I would have figured. And secondly, one that I would have thought would have been accepted on the spot. Especially for someone who, after their game six elimination to the Penguins, said he wanted to be back and loved the players and Long Island. But as we have all seen before time and time again, money talks much louder than words.
Where Do Isles Go Now?
I am glad you asked. The unrestricted free agent market is razor thin this season, more than it has ever been in my most recent memory. Names abound such as….
- Ron Hainsey – made 4.5mm for Winnipeg, age 32
- Robyn Regehr – made 4.02mm for LA, age 33
- Marek Zidlicky – made 4mm for NJ, age 36
- Rob Scuderi – made 3.4mm for LA, age 34
- Ian White – made 2.875m for Det, age 28
- Andrew Ference – made 2.250m for Bos, age 34
- Joe Corvo – made 2mm for Car, age 35
There are more of the same ilk on the market and as you can see not much to choose from when you are talking about replacing a power play quarterback. The safe money is on White remaining in Detroit and Ference staying with the powerful Bruins so you can assume they will be off the market come July 5.
The answer could come from within. With a glut of prospects in Bridgeport the most likely scenario is Matt Donovan, coming off a 14 goal season for the Sound Tigers with over 100 penalty minutes. A good puck mover, one can certainly envision him getting first crack at obtaining the spot once training camp opens and the team grooming Travis Hamonicto work the first power play unit with Viznovsky.
Who Gets The ‘C’?
Even though I don’t think it is a foregone conclusion and total slam-dunk, the most likely scenario, if in fact it has not been decided already, is John Tavares. Entering year 5 with the team and signed to a long term contract that shows his commitment to the organization it just makes the most sense.
My only concern is the fact that Tavares puts more pressure on himself than anyone else could ever do. His desire to get better each and every off-season is well chronicled. Wearing the prestigious letter on his sweater will only heighten not only the expectations placed on him but the pressure that surrounds him. I have seen players rise to the occasion and other crumble under its weight.
The only two challengers realistically to Tavares being officially anointed would be Kyle Okposo and Hamonic. With the outstanding second half that Okposo had, I would think the Isles want to see that on a yearly basis and not quarterly. Hamonic stepped up and played brilliantly down the stretch and against the Penguins but might not be ready to lead a group of men just yet. He could be best suited being fitted for an ‘A’.
What do you think Isles fans? Was Snow right in not going above his offer to retain the captain? Who would you want to see replace Streit on the blueline? Is JT a slam dunk for captain?
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