Oh captain, my captain! The New York Rangers made the first big deal of deadline day by acquiring captain Martin St. Louis from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for captain Ryan Callahan, a conditional 2014 second-round pick and a 2015 first-round pick.
Darren Dreger of TSN confirmed the deal via Twitter, with the details coming courtesy of NHL.com.
Trade call now done. St Louis trade to NYR is official. #Tradecentre— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) March 5, 2014
The Broadway Blueshirts have made a calculated risk, but it is one that should pay off.
Whenever a team trades a 29-year-old forward and two quality picks for an aging forward, there are going to be some skeptics. It is understandable why there is a mixed reaction to this trade, but consider the following.
The Rangers were not going to yield to Callahan’s demands, and it made no sense to lose him for nothing via free agency. Callahan lowered his demands to $6.3 million per year, but the Rangers wouldn't budge off their $6 million-per-year offer.
Not sure if it's out there or not, but told Callahan's latest offer was 6-years at $6.3M per season. Rangers declined, set on 6/$6M per— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) March 4, 2014
Given his asking price of over six years and over $6 million, according to multiple sources—including USA Today's Kevin Oklobzija—it is likely that not many teams would be willing to pay a fair price just to have the opportunity to rent his services.
Therefore, general manager Glen Sather had to do the best that he could given the circumstances.
Chris Stewart was once thought to be an option in exchange for Callahan, but he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in the Ryan Miller blockbuster. Sather probably could have made a last-ditch pitch to other teams, but ultimately, this deal will end up benefiting the Rangers.
The price seems steep, but it is a risk the Rangers were willing to take. No matter how you look at it, the Rangers will have at least one more year of St. Louis at a rate of pay lower than what Callahan would have signed for.
St. Louis is on a reasonable contract that will count $5,625,000 against the cap. That's a reasonable rate, and given that he is in twilight of his career and depending on how well he performs leading up to the postseason and in the playoffs, negotiating an extension should be rather easy. He also was locked on New York, according to Darren Dreger, so it is hard to believe he will sign elsewhere next summer. I mention an extension because this is unlikely a one-and-a-half-year move.
It is conceivable that St. Louis has at least three good years left, because he is a durable player in great shape. If you look at this chart, you will see that St. Louis has had some steady production throughout his mid-to-late 30s.
St. Louis is a great all-around player and a winger that can help jump-start the team’s offense. He may also be able to spark Brad Richards, his best friend and former teammate from Tampa Bay.
St. Louis' offense would be great, but a rejuvenated Richards would be another huge plus. Right now, St. Louis is one of the league's best players, and that is what the Rangers could use in their lineup.
Although St. Louis is 38, he still averages a point per game. He currently has 29 goals and 32 assists for 61 points, which is eighth overall in the entire NHL.
Callahan was never going to bring that type of production, primarily because he isn’t that type of player. However, he did expect to get paid like one.
The physicality and grit Callahan brought to the lineup will be missed, but the Rangers still have Daniel Carcillo and Derek Dorsett, two very truculent players. The Rangers also have J.T. Miller, a player in the mold of Callahan, and he could help to fill that void as early as next year.
It is fair to say that this season, the Rangers have enough grit, so they knew they could part with Callahan in order to add another scorer.
The draft picks hurt, but they will be a non-factor if the Rangers ultimately are successful in their quest to win the Stanley Cup. There was no way the Blueshirts were going to finish in Connor McDavid territory next season, so there shouldn’t be so much uproar over the price paid.
There’s a chance that Callahan won’t re-sign with Tampa Bay, so essentially, the Rangers may have acquired an elite, albeit oldish, scoring forward for two draft picks that may mean very little to a contender like the Rangers.
Simply put, the Rangers are a better hockey team today than they were yesterday. You can only judge this trade right now on the parts swapped because there is no telling what is going to happen—or what could happen at the draft.
With that in mind, a swap of Callahan for St. Louis is an absolute steal for New York. Adding St. Louis gives the Rangers the ability to roll multiple scoring lines, which will help during the playoffs. The Rangers win big today, and St. Louis could be a huge X-factor the rest of the season.
This trade by no means makes New York the favorite, but it does push the Rangers into contender territory in the Eastern Conference.