It was announced today that the New York Rangers acquired veteran winger, Martin St Louis, from the Tampa Bay Lightning in a deal that had been rumored for weeks. The Rangers gave up gritty, heart and soul player Ryan Callahan and two draft picks, a first round pick in 2015 and a second round pick in 2014. The Rangers would also be forced to give up the first round pick in 2014 if certain conditions are met. There is no denying that Marty St. Louis is the type of player you pay that kind of bundle for. He has been one of the most productive players in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the past decade. But given the situation surrounding the trade, the New York Rangers paid too high a cost for Martin St Louis.
The first rumblings of a trade started back in January, when Team Canada announced their Olympic roster. With the productive year St. Louis was having, he was considered one of the top candidates to be named on the team. With Tampa Bay’s general manager, Steve Yzerman, as one of the prominent decision-makers for Team Canada, he was all but a lock. That is, until the roster was announced, and St. Louis was not on it. The backlash was almost immediate. It was almost inconceivable to leave off the star winger, who had been a key part of many Olympic teams in the past. Marty St. Louis did eventually play for Team Canada in Sochi, becoming a late injury replacement when his Lightning teammate, Steve Stamkos, was unable to play. But the damage was already done.
Marty St. Louis allegedly approached the Lightning management after the initial roster was announced and discussed his unhappiness with the decision. If his own general manager could not trust him to play for the Canadian national team, after the year he had as captain of the Lightning and after the years he had given the franchise, it would be difficult to play for Tampa Bay. He agreed to waive the no trade clause in his contract if the Lightning were to look to trade him. Unfortunately for the Lightning, he added a stipulation: He would only waive that no trade clause if he was traded to the New York Rangers.
The Rangers had been dealing with a problem of their own, namely their upcoming free agent captain Ryan Callahan. The two sides went back and forth in contract disputes. Callahan allegedly wanted a seven-year deal that gave him almost $50 million by the end of it, but the Rangers brass offered a six-year deal closer to $35 million. Callahan and the Rangers were close to signing a new deal before today’s trade, but in the end, the offer of Martin St Louis became too tempting to refuse.
The deal, in the short term, will greatly benefit the Rangers. They pick up an elite winger to perhaps play beside Rick Nash or Brad Richards. It gives them an offense that can easily compete with the best of them, especially their Metropolitan division foes, the Pittsburgh Penguins. For the next two years at least, New York fans will be absolutely dazzled by the skill and talent displayed on the ice, a vast change from only a few years ago, when the Rangers were seen as more of a grinding, defensive-minded team. And considering Callahan was an upcoming free agent with no guarantee he would have re-signed in New York, the price they paid for Martin St Louis does not initially look so bad.
The price became too high when the Rangers started handing out draft picks like candy. In addition to the 2015 first round pick and the 2014 second round pick, the Ranger will give the Lightning their 2014 first round pick if the Rangers make the Eastern Conference Finals. Though the picks will likely be low-round picks, as the Rangers can now make a deep playoff run with ease, it eliminates the flow of high-end talent to New York’s prospect pipeline. The Rangers did not have the deepest prospect pool to begin with, with many of their talented ones making the jump to the NHL these past few seasons, and now this trade hinders their ability to refill that pool.
Glen Sather had Yzerman over a barrel. St. Louis had essentially handcuffed the Lightning general manager into trading him to the New York Rangers. It was not the first time the Rangers benefitted from such a fortuitous situation. A few seasons ago, former Columbus Blue Jackets star, Rick Nash, gave a similar ultimatum that saw him traded to New York. In that deal, New York Rangers general manager, Glen Sather, took full advantage of the situation, grabbing Nash for what could essentially be considered spare parts. But in the deal with Tampa Bay, that same shrewdness could not be found. The Rangers, in the end, paid too high a cost for Martin St Louis.
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Commentary by Jonathan Gardner
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