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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Albatross? Don’t think so…

Just like the day after the NHL draft when they attempt to name the “winners” and “losers” of the event, journalists think they can name the “busts” and “steals” the days and weeks following the free agency boom in July.

Granted, Mark Streit wasn’t a household name on Long Island on June 30th. But he’s becoming one.

Signed for five years and $20.5 million, GM Garth Snow was getting a quarterback for the power play and someone to patrol the blueline on a regular shift. But there were doubters everywhere that Streiter wasn’t worth the money.

On August 23rd – a month and a half before the regular season even began – Adam Muir of Sports Illustrated labeled Mark No. 5 as the 2008 free agent most likely to bust.

Here’s a link to what he said and here’s what he said:

5. Mark Streit (five years, $20.5 million)

The Islanders might as well have declined the extra man most nights last season, so ineffective was their 29th-rated power play. Streit, whose 34 PP points ranked second among all blueliners, seems like an ideal free agent addition. But did the success of the top-rated Montreal power play revolve around the 31-year-old, or was he the beneficiary of an established system that had led the league without much help from him the previous year? And how much of an asset will he be defensively considering he was minus-six at even strength for a team that was second overall in goals scored? Streit might earn his keep, but the potential for this deal to be an albatross is there.

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Not only offensively, but defensively as well, the star of Switzerland has proven otherwise.

Mark Streit isn’t going to the All-Star Game because every team has to have a representative. In fact, that’s not even a rule – but to the League’s credit, they do try to include at least one person from all 30 teams.

The bottom line is that this isn’t the year of Mariusz Czerkawski or Scott Lachance at the ASG.

As of today, Mark is tied for the league lead among defensemen (and leads all Eastern Conference defensemen) in points with 32. He flat out leads all NHL d-men in power play points with 20. His defensive play can’t be measured in numbers, but everyone around the league is taking notice. Just in the past week, there have been stories in both Edmonton papers about his superb play and Logie has taken notice all season of Mark for Newsday. The Canadian Press named Mark a starter at the game if they had it their way.

So bust? Nah. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, if there needed to be an injury replacement in the staring lineup, I can’t think of a better choice than Mark.

So, on January 25, Mark Streit will show the hockey world (his former team who said he couldn’t be regular defenseman and SI who labeled him a bust and all the other teams that didn’t make him an offer) that he’s the real deal on the blueline.

Oh, and what a better place than in the city that told him he can’t be a regular defenseman in the NHL.

The Islanders have him locked up for another four years (at a bargain of a price compared to the other free agent signings last July). And Mark is first class off the ice as well. That’s something we “love” as an organization. Mark Streit loves being on Long Island and an Islander for the next four years.

And the Islanders nor Streit wouldn’t have it any other way.

Way to go Mark. You deserve to play in the All-Star Game.

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