The facts aren’t wholly apparent, but it sure appears like Lightning captain Martin St. Louis took significant offense to initially being left off Team Canada’s Sochi Olympics roster (he was later named as an injury replacement for teammate Steven Stamkos). Asked Wednesday to comment on recent trade rumors linking him to the New York Rangers, St. Louis responded in a way he had to know was the equivalent of parachuting a crate of fireworks into an oil refinery fire.
St. Louis “left it” without saying his opinion had changed since winning a gold medal with Team Canada, or that he was still invested in remaining with the team for the rest of his career. Either one of those definitive statements would have quashed the issue once and for all, but it remains unquashed and speculation as to the 38-year-old’s future will now intensify both in the short term (i.e. the March 5 trade deadline) and again in the off-season. If Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman does decide to move St. Louis, where are the best fits for both team and player? These teams (in no particular order) make most sense:
1. New York Rangers. St. Louis holds a full no-trade clause, giving him control of his destination in a deal. And because he makes his off-season home in Connecticut, the Blueshirts are rumored to be his first, and perhaps only choice. Rangers captain Ryan Callahan’s name is most prominently mentioned, but the pending unrestricted free agent would need to agree to a contract extension first, and there would likely need to be a draft pick or prospect added to the pot to make the deal palatable for Yzerman.
2. Los Angeles Kings. The Kings have for months been rumored to be on the hunt for offense and St. Louis certainly would help in that regard. L.A. GM Dean Lombardi doesn’t shy away from these types of moves in mid-season and with his team fighting for their playoff lives, a shake-up of significant proportions could be in order.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins’ organizational coffers have been depleted in recent years by GM Ray Shero’s wheeling and dealing, but don’t kid yourself: Shero will always have interest in a veteran winner such as St. Louis, who is only under contract for next season and might be more amenable to playing outside of Manhattan if he knew he were playing on a line with Sidney Crosby. Shero may need to get a third team involve to satisfy Yzerman’s demands, but again, don’t think he’s not capable of doing so.
4. Philadelphia Flyers. You can’t speak of teams seemingly forever in the mix for the league’s top players without mentioning Ed Snider’s Flyers. St. Louis’ former Lightning colleague Vincent Lecavalier now plays in Philly, which isn’t all that far from the greater New York City area. The Flyers also usually throw caution to the wind – at least, compared to most teams – when it comes to making big plays on the trade front. Remember, few believed Lecavalier would be a Flyer, either.