Tampa Bay Lightning: How Much Longer Does Martin St. Louis Have at Top Level?

Eric SteitzAnalyst IIISeptember 11, 2012

Martin St. Louis is one of the best right-wingers to play in the NHL.
Martin St. Louis is one of the best right-wingers to play in the NHL.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Martin St. Louis has been a part of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the last 11 seasons, including four All-Star campaigns, but the aging winger’s All-Star career is nearing its end. 

St. Louis is 37 years old and one of the best playmakers in the game. Sure, he benefits from playing alongside Steven Stamkos, but St. Louis has scored 60 points or more in each of his last nine seasons. 

The four-time All-Star is one of the hardest working players in the NHL. In 2010 and ’11, St. Louis won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy. 

That trophy is awarded to the player who best exhibits sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability (NHL.com). 

Last season, he tallied 74 points, sixth among right-wingers. The only right-winger older than him in the top 10 is 42-year-old Teemu Selanne. 

Selanne tallied 66 points last season. 

St. Louis is just one year removed from back-to-back 90-point seasons. In 2010, he tallied 90 points. In 2011, the long-time Bolt notched a career-high 99 points and finished just five points behind Daniel Sedin for the league’s top point scorer. 

The 5’8” St. Louis may be undersized but he is the definition of consistency. Heading into last season, he had played in 499 straight contests until an injury suffered in practice ended his streak. 

Since joining the Lightning, St. Louis has played in 77 or more games in all but one season (2001-02). 

The highlight of his career came in 2004, when the Bolts won the Stanley Cup. He led the NHL in points with 95 and won the Hart Trophy, given annually to the most valuable player. 

With all of the accolades St. Louis has acquired, he still flies under the radar. Unfortunately for Tampa, his 90-point seasons are gone.

Arguably one of the best teammates in the game, St. Louis has provided the Lightning with 832 points in 862 games. 

For the first time in five seasons, St. Louis missed a game last season—he ended up missing five total. St. Louis’s production fell 25 points from 99 to 74. 

Another year older, St. Louis has embraced his role as a playmaker. His 25 goals last season was his lowest total since 2007-08. 

Unfortunately for St. Louis, his new role alongside Stamkos hurts his chances at returning to the All-Star game. With rising stars like Claude Giroux, Phil Kessel and Jordan Eberle, St. Louis could be left off the roster. 

Tampa Bay can still count on No. 26 for at least 60 points per season. Despite a 25-point drop, St. Louis doesn’t appear to be losing his touch on the ice. 

Another 70-point performance from the assistant captain will further etch his name in the hearts of the Lightning’s faithful following. 

The tragic thing for St. Louis’s All-Star hopes is that he plays a position loaded with young stars in a conference loaded with talent. Of the ten highest scoring right-wingers, seven came from the Eastern Conference, including six of the top seven. 

Fortunately for St. Louis, he has never had a major issue with injuries. Just 148 points shy of 1,000 for his career, the 37 year old has a good shot to reach that career milestone.

There are currently only 79 players who have met that mark. Of those 79—a number that includes active players like Jaromir Jagr and Selanne—only 16 are not in the NHL Hall of Fame.

St. Louis will be a Hall of Famer after he retires, but, for now, he is still one of the best right-wingers in the game. 

To expect another All-Star season from him would be asking too much, but St. Louis has made a career out of overachieving. The once-undrafted Vermont Catamount, St. Louis is an overachiever in every sense of the term. 

His time as an All-Star may be up, but he is still going to be the same old St. Louis the NHL is used to seeing for nearly the last dozen years.