Since the NHL trade freeze was rescinded, there has been a lot of buzz involving the New York Rangers and potential Hall of Famer Martin St. Louis. It was reported by Arthur Staple of Newsday that St. Louis had sought a trade after being initially snubbed by Steve Yzerman, his general manager in Tampa Bay, for the Team Canada Olympic roster.
St. Louis went on to win a gold medal as Steven Stamkos' replacement, but according to TSN Insider Bob McKenzie, St. Louis wants a trade, and he will only move his no-trade clause to become a Ranger.
Given how quickly this story has progressed, and the information currently available; will St. Louis be a New York Ranger before the NHL trade deadline?
If St. Louis isn't a Ranger before the clock strikes 3 p.m. on March 5, it will be very surprising. There is too much smoke leaking out through the media for there not to be a fire. St. Louis also has a lot of power in this situation, so it won't come down to Rangers general manager Glen Sather overpaying to get the deal done.
In this situation the player is in the driver's seat, and management can't simply deal their asset to the highest bidder. There is only one bidder, and that is the Rangers.
In addition to that, St. Louis holds all the cards with his resume, his record of service to the Lightning and his no-trade clause. The Lightning captain is so dead-set on becoming a Ranger, that when other general managers have inquired about his availability, this has been the response:
McKenzie's statement was one thing, but Dreger's report takes things to a whole new level. It is out in the open that St. Louis wants to be in New York, and now management is telling other teams not to waste their time.
From this situation only one thing can happen, and that is a trade. However, there may be some of you reading that are probably thinking, "Steve Yzerman doesn't have to give into St. Louis' wishes. He is the general manager, and his job is to improve the team."
While this may be true, and Yzerman could want to wait until the summer until he can get a deal from the Rangers that he likes, he may not get his wish.
If St. Louis wants out, he is going to get moved. Don't kid yourself, St. Louis has been nothing but a class act throughout his career, and he has earned the right to do what he wants. If Tampa Bay didn't want that, they never would have given him a NTC.
While it is possible that St. Louis could become a Ranger in the summer, there are a number of reasons why he will likely get his wish sooner rather that later.
First and foremost, St. Louis has a great relationship with ownership. According to Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times, owner Jeff Vinik met with St. Louis to see how he was feeling.
St. Louis is the greatest player in Lightning history, and if he wants to move on, Vinik is not going to deprive his franchise player from doing so. Yzerman may be the team's GM, but Vinik's name is on the bottom of all the checks.
The second reason why St. Louis will get moved before the deadline if that is what he wants is because keeping him would not help team morale. If St. Louis wanted to remain a member of the Lightning, he would have quashed all rumors and accusations when he met with the media on Wednesday.
According to the cited report above, he simply told Cristodero and the rest of the Lightning media:
"The only thing I can say about that is I've had conversations with Steve on my future here," St. Louis said after practice at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon. "Out of respect for my teammates, that's all I'm going to say about that."
His comments were very non-committal, and that could have an impact on the roster. This will lead to extra questions in the locker room that could become a distraction for a Tampa team that is on pace to have its best season since winning the Stanley Cup in 2003-04.
Lastly, the Lightning won't draw this out, because they don't want to tarnish St. Louis' legacy and what he means to the franchise. When Rick Nash requested a trade back in 2012, Columbus general manager Scott Howson threw his captain under the bus without hesitation.
That isn't going to happen in this situation, because it would only anger the fan base. Tampa Bay really cares about its fans, and they do a lot of things to accommodate them. Examples of this include the renovation of the Tampa Bay Times Forum and promotions for reasonably priced season tickets.
St. Louis has meant so much to the team that they wouldn't drag this out long enough for fans to sour on him. If he wants to get dealt they will instead rip the bandage right off. While the fans may be upset he wants to leave, he has given them a lot during his 14 years with the team.
The Rangers want to improve their scoring depth, and St. Louis will help that immensely. He may be 38, but he's a young 38 if that makes any sense. This move would be akin to the Blueshirts' acquisition of Brendan Shanahan after the lockout, and it would be adding a veteran leader that has some game left.
If you don't believe me, take a look at this.
As you can see, St. Louis has a lot of game left. Given all the media reports, it is only a matter of time before the below image is a reality, and not just an expert Photoshop.
The only question at this point is what will the Rangers have to part with, and that certainly will be an interesting narrative as the last week before the deadline continues.
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