Mark Streit was named Islanders captain before last season, usually a sign that a player is in an organization's long-term plans. But Streit's contract is up after this abbreviated season, leading to plenty of speculation that the defenseman will be a hot commodity on the rather dormant trade market.
Streit's agents at CAA and Islanders general manager Garth Snow have had some preliminary talks on an extension, Newsday has learned. The Islanders still are painfully thin on NHL-ready defensemen, so Streit, who has had some struggles in his own zone, still would be welcome to return on a short-term deal beyond this season.
And he would welcome the return.
"The fact is I like it here. We have a really good team," said Streit, who entered Saturday night's game leading Islanders defensemen in scoring (3-3-6 in 13 games) while carrying a team-worst minus-9 rating. "I've been here five years and I have a really good role, I love the room and I can tell the improvement is here the last few years. It's maybe 5 percent we're missing to break through. Overall, I'd like to stay."
It all depends on what the Islanders do on the ice the next three to four weeks. If they stumble and fall too far out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, Snow might have some of the best trade chips available in Streit and Lubomir Visnovsky, two veteran defensemen in a league crying out for such players.
Snow has not had contract talks with goalie Evgeni Nabokov's agent and is taking a wait-and-see approach on Visnovsky, who has been a valuable addition in the three games he's played since arriving on Long Island last week.
He ultimately might do the same with Streit, but the captain still has value to the Islanders.
Have to handle the surges
The Islanders haven't wiped away the ugly five-game losing streak they snapped against the Rangers on Thursday, and one of the reasons for it was an inability to handle momentum surges. Five times in their first 13 games, the Isles allowed a goal within 65 seconds after scoring one of their own.
"It just seems when we're trying to withstand momentum from the other team, we're just not getting the little details done, the things that will make us successful," John Tavares said. "We've got to do a better job with that. That starts with the leadership [meaning himself] going on down.''
Reasoner on the block
Center Marty Reasoner was a healthy scratch for the fourth straight game Saturday and seemingly has lost his fourth-line/penalty-killer role to rookie Casey Cizikas. The Isles have been shopping Reasoner around the league, according to an NHL source, but there likely won't be many takers, given Reasoner's struggles since he signed a two-year, $2.7-million deal with the Isles before last season.
Reasoner has one goal and six assists in 71 total games with a minus-30 rating in his Isles tenure. He has won 52.8 percent of his faceoffs (354-316) in his season-plus here, so that's something to offer a new team.
The more likely option: The Isles will place Reasoner on waivers if they need to call up a forward sometime this season.