When you think of the Tampa Bay Lightning there are three players that instantly come to mind. Steven Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. While some might argue it would be in that order, it’s difficult to argue that St. Louis helped put hockey on the map in sunny Tampa Bay. A staple of sorts to the franchise, it’s difficult to imagine the Lightning ever parting ways with the veteran who helped deliver a Stanley Cup in 2004.
But for the Lightning, the time may be now to deal their former franchise player in St. Louis and look to restock the cupboards with prospects and youth. I say former franchise player because it’s clear that this is now Steven Stamkos’ team.
Currently sitting in twelfth place in the east and six points back of eighth, the Lightning don’t look promising when it comes to making the playoffs. That’s where the idea of trading St. Louis comes in courtesy of Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times.
Cristodero is quick to point out that this is merely speculation on his behalf, but he does bring up some intriguing points surrounding the situation.
St. Louis is 37-years old and while he’s still putting up terrific numbers, Cristodero wonders if now is the ideal time to move him. The old “strike while the iron is hot” mentality. This season St. Louis has 7 goals and 30 assists in 28 games which is impressive to say the least.
Considered a late bloomer, the Laval, Quebec native has averaged 85 points a season over the past 8 years and would be a hot commodity if he was to be made available at this year’s deadline. A proven playoff performer with an average greater than a point per game in throughout his career in the postseason, St. Louis is the type of player that many clubs would love to add for the spring dance.
He does carry a fairly large but reasonable salary and cap hit at $5.625 million per year through the 2014-15 season. But with the production that he’s put out over the latter stages of his career, one could argue that his salary has him grossly underpaid.
While St. Louis would surely attract a large and healthy return for the Lightning there are some things to consider, mainly the full, no-trade clause that St. Louis has and would have to waive “if” Steve Yzerman came to him with a potential trade in place.
Of course it would be difficult for Yzerman to entertain the thought of dealing St. Louis, one of the club’s top performers and fan favorites.
But this is where Cristodero makes some relevant and valid points about the idea of moving the former Art Ross Trophy winner. He notes that when St. Louis signed his extension in the summer of 2010 it was under the notion that the club would remain competitive and “move in a positive direction.”
This season would mark it the second straight year with no playoffs in Tampa Bay and you have to wonder if that is weighing on Marty’s mind.
Cristodero makes reference to the eight roster players that are currently playing in Tampa Bay that spent last year in the AHL. Combine that with the fact that the club has committed to making Anders Lindback their number one netminder and suddenly the notion of rebuilding becoming more and more evident.
St. Louis is not getting any younger and would no doubt love another shot at getting his name on Lord Stanley. Winning a second cup in Tampa Bay doesn’t appear to be in the cards for St. Louis and he may have to start exploring his external options if he wants that second ring.
It’s hard to fathom the Tampa Bay Lightning trading Martin St. Louis. He’s the type of player that you can see retiring in the jersey that has meant so much to his career. But sometimes business takes precedent over personal feelings and in this case, making the deal might make too much sense not to make.