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Numbers Game: Isles Ink PP Help

Scott Cullen
7/18/2008 3:24:06 PM
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A team in desperate need for power play help, the Islanders addressed that shortcoming with their free agent signings.

Numbers Game looks at the Islanders' acquisitions of Mark Streit and Doug Weight.

The Islanders Get: D Mark Streit and C Doug Weight.

Streit, the 30-year-old Swiss swingman, will presumably get to focus on defensive duties with the Islanders and, more specifically, he'll be manning the point on the power play.  He tied for second in the league among defencemen with 34 power play points, so there's no secret to why the Islanders were interested.

With the league's 29th-ranked power play and Chris Campoli the only returning blueliner to have scored more than ten power play points, the Isles deserve credit for targeting a player that should be able to help fix that problem. 

A mobile puck-mover, Streit has improved in each of his three NHL seasons to the point that he was tied for third in scoring among NHL blueliners last season, when he split time between forward and defence, showing a versatility that surely enhanced his value.

At the same time, Streit isn't very strong physically and that can cause him problems in the defensive zone.  Despite being Montreal's third-leading scorer, for example, only one Canadiens player had a rating worse than Streit's minus-6.

Thus, the five-year, $20.5-million contract does seem a tad pricey for a player with a limited NHL resume.  It's not reasonable to expect Streit to produce as much with the Islanders as he did in Montreal, on the league's best power play, but he should be counted on for 40-plus points per season if this investment is going to be worthwhile for the Isles.

Montreal doesn't have a natural internal solution to replace Streit at the point on the power play -- the one area in which he'll be missed most -- but they could pair Andrei Markov with a forward like Alex Kovalev or Sergei Kostitsyn in order to maximize the skill level of the unit.

Weight, 37, is a quality veteran player, but his ability to produce offensively is naturally in question after a career-low 25 points in 67 games last season.

Much like Streit, though, Weight is an asset on the power play.  He only had 10 power play points last season, but he has 406 career power play points and has finished with more than 20 power play points 11 times, so Weight should get a chance to boost the PP.

The move also re-unites Weight with Bill Guerin, a finishing winger with whom he's previously had some measure of success in both St. Louis and Edmonton.

Once a player starts hitting his late-30s, it's tough to predict a bounceback season, but Weight should be able to improve on last year's 25-point campaign.  Maybe he's only good for 40 points, but 41 points would have been good for third on the Isles in 2007-2008.

Anaheim replaced Weight by signing Brendan Morrison, a younger player who should be more productive.

As a one-year, $1.75-million risk, Weight is worth a roll of the dice for an Islanders team that desperately needed an infusion of talent.  The one-year deal means that the Islanders can move on if Weight doesn't work out and the short duration fo the deal essentially allows Weight to bridge the gap a little while the Islanders' prospects continue to develop.

Scott Cullen can be reached at scullen@tsn.ca



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