Mark Streit (Photo by TVA Sports)

by Blain Potvin, Staff Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

This summer Mark Streit returned to the Montreal Canadiens, the NHL team that had drafted him in the ninth round of the 2004 NHL Draft. The reunion lasted two games as he and the Canadiens decided to mutually terminate his contract on Monday.

Streit was waived by the Canadiens last week just days after reports surfaced that he was being shopped around the league. It was clear he was no longer in Marc Bergevin’s plans for a rebuilt blueline.  After clearing waivers, Streit was assigned to the Laval Rocket.

The 39-year-old decided not to report to Laval taking the weekend to explore his options. In the end the team and Streit mutually chose to end his time with the Canadiens. Streit was, once again, waived for the purposes of terminating his contract.

After once again clearing waivers, the Canadiens will receive relief from his cap hit.

This leaves Streit as an unrestricted free agent, available to sign with any team. Most expect that the native of Englisberg, Switzerland will return home to play with the NLA. Doing so allows him to extend his professional career and opens an opportunity for him to join the Swiss Olympic men’s hockey team in advance of this year’s games in Pyongyang.

Marc Bergevin raised eyebrows this past summer suggesting that Streit’s signing would, in part, be a replacement for Andrei Markov. Perhaps a more realistic hope was for Streit to be a third pairing defenceman and to be a member of the power-play. While that hope never materialized, Streit recorded 13 power-play points in 2016-17, one better than  Markov and Nathan Beaulieu.

In the end, it became painfully evident Streit had lost a step and was well below younger players on Montreal’s depth chart. The surprise emergence of Victor Mete, as a top four defender, made this contract termination inevitable.

In his career, Streit played in 786 NHL games, earning 434 points. While starting just three of 25 playoff games in 2016-17, he was a member of the Stanley Cup winning Pittsburgh Penguins.

In two tours with the Canadiens, recorded 25 goals, 109 points in 207 games. His best season in the NHL was 2007-08 when he patrolled the blueline with either Markov or Roman Hamrlik and Markov. He scored 13 goals and 62 points which earned him a five-year $20.5 million contract when he signed with the New York Islanders as an unrestricted free agent.

As Streit leaves Montreal, I would like to thank him for his time with the organization acknowledging that he is one of the greatest Swiss players to ever play in the NHL. His success perhaps forged a path for Swiss players including Nico Hischier, the first player from Switzerland taken first overall in the NHL Entry Draft.