Kukla's Korner Hockey
by William Morrison on 08/19/11 at 10:20 AM ET
NHL.com writer John Kreiser wrote a column earlier this week on 15 Eastern Conference players on the hot seat to produce this season. One of the players Kreiser listed on the hot seat is Islanders defenseman Mark Streit.
Kreiser said of Streit:
“The Isles’ season took a turn for the worse when Streit, their best defenseman, was lost for the year after injuring his shoulder in a training camp scrimmage. All indications are that Streit is healthy again; if he is as productive as he was in his first two seasons on Long Island, it would be a major boost for a team trying to end a four-year playoff drought.”
What Streit can bring to this Islanders team should not be underestimated. As Kreiser points out in his column, if Streit produces equal to what he did in his first two seasons with the Islanders, the team, fans, and upper management will be thrilled. I think that Streit is going to come back a smarter, more physically developed presence on the ice and will be more of a leader off the ice. Streit is one of the most underrated defenseman in the NHL.
What the Islanders young defense corps didn’t have last season was Streit in practice telling them what they did wrong, telling them when they were out of position, and hearing it from someone who is out on the ice with them night after night after night. Andrew MacDonald showed leadership last year, but he needed to do so in Streit’s absence and didn’t do so to the level that Streit will this year. This is by no means a knock on MacDonald, but Streit is a very well established, all-star defenseman.
Streit will not only put up big numbers, but he is a talented puck moving defenseman who makes everyone around him better. He will presumably play the most minutes out of any of the Islanders this season. With that being said, head coach Jack Capuano will be smart early in the season and will ease Streit back into major minutes. Streit will help lower goals against, lower turnovers, and will help increase goals scored by playing Islander hockey and getting the puck up the ice. Streit will also play some forward at times when necessary and the team doesn’t lose a step when he moves up front. Streit is a very invaluable member of the Islanders.
Streit is a natural leader. Streit was team captain of his native Swiss team for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin and the most recent Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010. In 2006, Streit led his Swiss team to wins over highly favored Czech Republic and Canada in the preliminary round. Streit also led the Swiss to a second upset of Canada in the round-robin portion of the tournament. In the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Streit notched three assists in five games. Streit was very productive in leading Switzerland to the quarterfinals in Vancouver before being eliminated by the United States.
Streit is my next pick to be the captain of the Isles and I think he deserves it. Look for Streit to equal or exceed his 49 point total from the 2009-2010 season.
Streit is expected to have good season, but I think it could be better than people think. All indications are that he will definitely not be on the hot seat going into next season.
The Islanders Informer
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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