Mark Streit #32 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against the Boston Bruins at the Wells Fargo Center on January 13, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Bruins 3-2.
(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)
The Penguins were involved in plenty of rumors heading into the NHL trade deadline, but the one thing that was known was that general manager Jim Rutherford wanted to bolster his blue line.
He did that with a deal just ahead of the deadline on Wednesday, acquiring left-shooting defenseman Mark Streit from the Tampa Bay Lightning for a 2018 fourth-round draft pick. The Lightning acquired Streit from the Philadelphia Flyers earlier in the day and agreed to pay 50 percent of his contract. The Flyers are on the hook for 4.7 percent.
To facilitate the deal, Rutherford sent Eric Fehr, Steve Oleksy and a fourth-round pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs for 23-year-old defensive prospect Frankie Corrado.
Streit, who turned 39 in December, is known for a booming shot from the point and is capable of quarterbacking the power play. That part of his game could benefit the Penguins, who have scored on just four of their past 33 opportunities.
Streit moves the puck quickly and is still capable of rushing it up the ice himself. He has put up lofty point totals in his career, going over 44 points on six occasions. He has chipped in five goals and 21 points in 49 games this season, but that number could grow as he gets acclimated to the skilled forwards on the Penguins roster.
Streit also brings veteran savvy and a hunger to win. He’s played in 31 playoff games, but he’s never won the Stanley Cup.
The move was sparked by the numerous injuries that have popped up on the Penguins blue line. Kris Letang, Olli Maatta and Trevor Daley are all on the shelf with various ailments. Daley is on long-term injured reserve and isn’t eligible to return until the playoffs, Maatta is still at least four weeks away and Letang has been skating but not taking contact.
There could be a definite logjam when everyone gets healthy.
Rutherford previously acquired Ron Hainsey from the Carolina Hurricanes and he’s currently playing alongside Brian Dumoulin on the top pairing. Justin Schultz just returned from a concussion and the defensive corps is fleshed out by Ian Cole, Chad Ruhwedel, Cameron Gaunce and the recently recalled Derrick Pouliot.
The moves leave the Penguins’ blue line heavy with left-handed shots. Their only right shooting defensemen when healthy are Schultz, Ruhwedel and Letang. Letang and Schultz are the only regulars.
Daley is the lone lefty who seems more comfortable playing on the right side, which makes him a wild card. Can he recover enough to play big minutes? That won’t be known for quite a while.
The blue looks like it could shake out as such when everyone is healthy: Dumoulin and Letang, Cole and Schultz, Hainsey and Daley.
Streit’s performance over the next several weeks could change that, but there will be some outstanding depth for Sullivan to choose from in the postseason. There will be upwards of nine NHL-caliber defenseman to choose from on any given night, so watch for a lot of shuffling around over a very busy slate of games in the month of March.