Rumors have persisted this week that the New York Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lightning are close to a deal centered around veteran winger Martin St. Louis. Rangers fans are ecstatic about the move, as bringing in a player of St. Louis’ caliber would vastly improve the offensive prowess of the club while the Lightning get something out of a player who wants out of Tampa Bay. But the deal isn’t done yet, as there are several key issues to address while Glen Sather and Steve Yzerman discuss this potential move.
The first issue is Tampa Bay getting what they consider good value for a player who leads their team in scoring. St. Louis has stepped up to lead the young Lightning team when Steven Stamkos went down to injury as the veteran has posted almost a point per game this season. He is the captain of their squad and plays almost three and a half minutes per game with the man advantage. There should be a lot of value for a player like that if he is on the trade market. Yet the rumors going around are St. Louis in exchange for Rangers captain Ryan Callahan straight up. This represents a huge loss in value, as while Callahan is a good player he is not as dynamic or game breaking as St. Louis. The Rangers have to add value in order to get a deal done.
Yet the Rangers don’t have much value to add. If they add an NHL player, they don’t have any prospects in the minors ready to play a full-time NHL role. They did not have a first-round pick last year and may be reluctant to deal this year’s as well. Prospects such as Danny Kristo, JT Miller or Jesper Fast may be in play, but they represent the small group of potential NHL players that the Rangers possess in their organization.
Tampa Bay’s hands are also tied. St. Louis has requested a trade and has a no movement clause in his contract that allows him to decide his final destination. He is signed until the end of the 2014-15 season, so the Lightning could wait until the summer to deal him if they don’t believe that the deal is fair. Tampa Bay should make a move as it is never good to have a disgruntled player in the organization, and getting Callahan plus other pieces back is a good addition to a team about to also get back the top goal scorer in the entire league.
New York cannot low ball Tampa Bay due to the fact that St. Louis has another year on his contract. If Sather does not offer up proper value for St. Louis, Yzerman can hold out on a deal until the summer where New York will not have their centerpiece of the deal. Whether Callahan is dealt to Tampa Bay for St. Louis to another team, it is known that Callahan will be traded away at the deadline unless he lowers his contract demands. If he is not included in the St. Louis deal this season, the Rangers will be hard pressed to make a deal with the Lightning without losing significant players on their current roster.
This is why both teams must give in to each other’s demands in order to make a deal. This is a deal that is going to happen inevitably, yet it would be much easier to get a deal done this season. Waiting until the summer would prove to be a long and drawn out process where neither team will get what they want in the timely fashion that they want, ultimately killing the value of the deal for both teams. Both the Rangers and the Lightning are looking to make postseason runs this season, and this could improve the Rangers while reinforcing the Lightning.