After discussing a blockbuster trade for most of the last week, the Tampa Bay Lightning have finally agreed to send Martin St. Louis to the New York Rangers in exchange for Ryan Callahan, a 2015 first-round pick and a conditional 2014 second-round pick. The conditional pick going to the Lightning becomes a first-rounder if the Rangers make the Eastern Conference Finals, which looks very likely.
This is because adding St. Louis transforms the Rangers franchise, and it is clear they ended up winning this trade despite giving up a major haul.
In shipping off Callahan, the Rangers ditched a guy that brings good character value to the table, but who was searching for a six-year, $36 million extension that would have been a gross overpayment. At best, the 28-year-old is a second-line winger on a good playoff team, and after posting a measly 54 points in his last 90 games, even this could even be a stretch.
Hard work and character may work well with fans, but at some point skill overshadows it, and Callahan wasn’t worth a salary cap-killing contract just to wear the “C” on his chest for the next half decade.
Shipping this potential overpayment off for St. Louis is a genius move by Rangers GM Glen Sather. Despite being 38 years of age, St. Louis still possesses game-changing speed and lateral quickness. He is a point per game player, can be utilized on both the powerplay and penalty kill to great efficiency and gives 110 percent at all times.
Basically, St. Louis is a supremely skilled version of Callahan, and he will slot in perfectly on the right wing of a line centered by Brad Richards (who he previously played with to great success) and either Mats Zuccarello or Rick Nash deputizing the other wing. That he is already signed through next season at an affordable $5.625 million cap hit is only an added bonus.
That the Rangers are going to be potentially giving up their first-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft may seem a bit much, but this is the price you pay for success. After falling up short in the playoffs every year since 1994, the Rangers are now in their best position to win the Stanley Cup in a long time, as they have a core nucleus of supremely talented forwards, a solid defensive core already in store and the ultimate series-stealer in Henrik Lundqvist.
This season looks destined to end in happiness for fans at Madison Square Garden.