The Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Islanders are about to become adversaries for the next couple weeks during their Second Round playoff match. Before that begins, let’s look back to a time when the two sides were partners, trade partners that is.
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Following their 2012-13 season, the Islanders agreed to send Philadelphia the rights to Mark Streit, a pending unrestricted free agent. At the time, Streit was the Islanders’ team captain and easily their best defenseman.
After recording a breakout 62-point campaign with the Montreal Canadiens during the 2007-08 season, the Swiss defenseman signed a five-year contract with the Isles. He became an instant star on Long Island and was voted to the NHL All-Star Game during his first season with the team.
He was forced to miss the 2010-11 season after suffering a torn shoulder labrum and rotator cuff, but otherwise only missed six games in four seasons with the Islanders. During those seasons, he tallied an impressive 179 points. In September 2011, as a reward for his success and leadership, Streit became the first Swiss-born team captain in NHL history.
Thus, when Streit was set to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2013, the Flyers and then General Manager Paul Holmgren were smart to pounce on him. The deal even looked like a steal for Philadelphia, who parted with just Shane Harper (a low-level prospect) and a 2014 fourth-round draft pick. Harper never amounted to much in the NHL, and currently plays in Sweden. The problem is that the fourth-round pick turned into Devon Toews, currently a talented blue-liner for the Isles.
Streit’s Tenure in Philadelphia
Following the trade, Streit signed a four-year contract with Philadelphia. He continued his strong play and recorded 96 points during his first two seasons with the Flyers. In both seasons, Streit led all Flyer defensemen in points and ranked in the top five among all skaters on the team.
The remarkably durable defenseman missed just one game during those first two seasons with the Flyers. Unfortunately, Streit suffered from a pubic plate detachment during his third season. As a result, he missed 20 games and tallied just 23 points that season, his lowest output since his rookie season.
Streit responded well enough the following season, with 21 points in his first 49 games, but with the Flyers out of the playoff hunt, he became a trade deadline causality. Just before the deadline, the Flyers sent him to Tampa Bay for Valtteri Filppula and a pair of draft picks. After acquiring Streit, Tampa Bay immediately flipped him to Pittsburgh for a 2018 fourth-round draft pick.
Streit finished the season there and played a final two games back in Montreal the following season before retiring for good in November 2017.
Ultimately, the Flyers got two exceptional seasons out of Streit and a decent trade package in return for him. Therefore that initial trade with the Islanders almost could have been a great and heavily one-sided deal. There is just one caveat though: Toews.
Toews, an Emerging Star
Usually, teams do not have qualms about parting with fourth-round draft picks. Sure some gifted players, like Keith Yandle and Viktor Arvidsson, have come out of this round. Nonetheless, by and large, fourth-round picks do not hold a tremendous amount of value. More so than not, these draft picks do not make it to the NHL.
Therefore, it made sense for the Flyers to trade their fourth-round pick to acquire an All-Star. Unfortunately, that pick just so happened to turn into one of those players from that round to make it to the NHL. The Islanders used that pick to selected defenseman Toews from Quinnipiac University.
While at Quinnipiac, Toews helped lead his team to multiple NCAA tournaments and was a plus-27 in his final season. After being drafted, he spent two and a half seasons with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, AHL affiliate of the Islanders. In his rookie season in Bridgeport, Toews tied a team record for points by a rookie defenseman with 40. He also won the Fastest Skater competition at the AHL All-Star Classic that season.
After more impressive play in Bridgeport, Toews made his NHL debut in December 2018. In his fifth game, Toews scored the overtime winner and became just the 18th player in NHL history to score his first career goal in overtime. Since then, he has emerged into a key blue-liner for the Islanders. This past season was his first full NHL season, and he impressed with six goals and 22 assists in 68 games.
Will Toews Make the Flyers Pay?
So far, Toews has two assists in just six career games against the Flyers. Nonetheless, he will have the chance to add to his total, as the teams will meet for a minimum of four games this series.
In his young career, Toews has already shown an ability to step up in the playoffs. In 17 career playoff games, he has one goal and eight assists. He also mans the blue line on the power play. The Islanders recently promoted his unit to be their primary power-play unit. That means that he will have even more opportunities to help his team score.
This postseason, he has also played well on the defensive end. He has blocked 17 shots in nine games, which is part of the reason why his team has conceded just 15 goals.
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We will soon find out just how much Toews makes the Flyers pay for the Streit deal. Up until now, the trade has turned out well for the Flyers. But now, seven years later, the Flyers may finally start to feel its ramifications. Go figure.
Covering the Flyers for THW | Lifelong Islanders fan, but promise to become a little more sympathetic to the Flyers | Also a 4X marathon-runner | UChicago ’19