The New York Rangers are headed to their first Stanley Cup final since 1994, and 38-year-old former Tampa Bay Lightning captain Martin St. Louis is a big reason why.At this point in time, one could say Rangers GM Glen Sather hit a home run with this move as the player he traded away, Ryan Callahan, was set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and contract negotiations weren’t exactly going smoothly. In fact, things were so tense the team couldn’t solely focus on the task at hand: securing another Stanley Cup playoff berth.
Meanwhile, down in Tampa Bay, a disgruntled St. Louis was irked enough by being left off Canada’s original Olympic roster to request that Bolts GM Steve Yzerman trade him to the Rangers, the lone team he’d waive his no-trade clause for.
With the Rangers rallying around the sudden passing of St. Louis’ mother just days before Mothers Day, and ultimately capturing their first conference championship in 20 years, it would be easy to declare New York the winner of this swap. Even more so when you look at Callahan’s performance (zero points, minus-4 rating) during the Lightning’s first round sweep at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens.
Is that an accurate assumption, though?
Delving deeper into this rare trade, you see that Yzerman probably saw an opportunity to make his captain happy while still building his team for future success. He accomplished both, with St. Louis vying for another Stanley Cup before hanging up his skates for good, and the Lightning taking New York’s first round draft pick, a stipulation of them advancing to the conference finals.
Looking forward, that could prove extremely beneficial for the Lightning. St. Louis was only signed through the end of 2014-15′, and while his offensive abilities are out of this world for someone his age, the defense isn’t nearly as good. In comparison, Calder Trophy finalists Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat have immense upside when it comes to providing offense, but know when to get back and provide support on the back end.
Couple that with up-and-coming prospects Jonathan Drouin, expected to make the Lightning’s roster next season after recording back-to-back 100+ point seasons with the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads, Adam Erne, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Kristers Gudlevskis, and others ready to make the leap, and you could easily argue Tampa Bay’s just a few key pieces away from its own Cup run.
What do you all think? Does the Marty St. Louis trade benefit the Rangers, Lightning or is it too early to tell? Could Tampa Bay’s short term pain equal a long term gain? Feel free to sound off in the comment section below.