Without a doubt, one of the marquee stories of this year’s NHL trade deadline was that of Martin St. Louis. It’s been discussed at great length, his demands of a trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning thanks to an Olympic snub, his refusal to go anywhere except the New York Rangers and the ensuing deal swapping him for Ryan Callahan, who was also stealing headlines due to failed contract talks.
When the dust finally settled, St. Louis was off to Manhattan, tasked with providing a much-needed offensive boost to a team struggling to score consistently. Why wouldn’t it work? If you need scoring, wouldn’t acquiring someone with over 60 points on the season be the perfect solution? Add in the chance to play alongside Brad Richards, who won a Stanley Cup with St. Louis in 2004, and you have yourself a quality setup.
Well, seven games in, things aren’t going as successfully as New York would’ve hoped. St. Louis has yet to score a goal, and has just two assists to his name since joining the Rangers. Of those seven games played, the team has only won three. Head coach Alain Vigneault scrapped the idea of St. Louis and Richards playing on the same line last Friday, claiming it wasn’t working the way he thought it would.
Calling the St. Louis deal a failure after a week’s worth of games is foolish. It’s way too early and he’s getting used to a new system in a new city for the first time since 2000. The problem, though, is New York’s spot in the standings. The Rangers are clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and their grip is loose to say the least. Three teams below them are within striking distance, so even the slightest slip could shift New York outside the postseason picture. In order to prevent that from happening, they’ll need to start scoring more consistently, and they need much more contributions from their newest member.
The problem is Vigneault is having difficulty finding a line with which St. Louis can be productive. As mentioned, there weren’t enough results in pairing him with Richards, and an attempt to line him up with Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello against the San Jose Sharks last night yielded nothing at all. You’d think that finding a line for a player of St. Louis’ talent wouldn’t be this difficult.
It would be much easier if this was earlier in the season, but with 13 games left, time is of the essence. The Rangers can’t afford to waste games trying to tinker with their lines in order to get the most out of St. Louis.
Again, it’s very difficult to get any sort of evaluation on this trade just under two weeks removed from it taking place. But desperate times change everything, especially for a team that is facing the possibility of missing the playoffs if they don’t start stringing wins together. Because of this, Rangers fans are expecting to see a little more from St. Louis than what they’re getting. If this slump ends up dragging longer, lending a big hand in the Rangers missing the postseason, you better believe St. Louis is going to hear about it all offseason.