You're Steve Yzerman, the General Manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning. You managed to disgruntle your captain and leading scorer, Martin St. Louis, by not naming him to the Canadian National Team. He eventually got to play in Sochi, and win Gold (nice job putting that team together you stud) but most people agree that his feathers are very much ruffled about the whole thing and now he's back in town and the trade deadline is looming.
Martin St. Louis is not only your captain and leading scorer, he's also a superstar that takes up only $5.635 million of cap space and you have him under contract until the 2015 offseason when he becomes a 40 year old unrestricted free agent. St. Louis also has amazing chemistry with your soon to be returning superstar goal scorer Steven Stamkos. St. Louis's elite playmaking ability turns Stamkos into a more or less unstoppable force on the power play. Your club currently has a record of 33-20-5, which is good for second in your division, and you likely have what it takes to make some noise in the playoffs.
So naturally you're going to trade the popular and beloved Martin St. Louis for the soon to be 29 year pending UFA Ryan Callahan who struggles to stay in the lineup, is unproductive at even strength, and has the power to simply walk in the 2014 offseason, leaving you empty-handed. And you're going to be doing this because St. Louis is grumpy, gold medal and all, and your hand is being forced.
Do you guys see what I'm getting at here? I know that crazier things have happened but why the hell would Steve Yzerman trade Martin St. Louis for Ryan Callahan?
When Steven Stamkos returns the Tampa Bay Lightning could be one of the real contenders from the Eastern Conference in the 2014 NHL Playoffs. They may not have the depth and balance of the Bruins or Penguins but they're a dynamic young team with talent in all of the right places and taking St. Louis out of the picture would be a tremendously bad idea. What is their incentive for this trade? What would they be trying to accomplish? Trade Marty because he asked for it? Adding grit and character (because they aren't adding leadership here)? Work ethic, character, and two-way play are not things you trade elite skill away to acquire, even if the elite skill is old and wants out of town.
Do we really think that St. Louis, by all accounts one of the classiest and most respected veterans in the league, is so disgruntled about the Olympic selection "scandal" that it would impact his play in some way or make him less committed to getting Tampa Bay deep into the playoffs? Is that who Marty St. Louis is? Is Tampa concerned that he'd be toxic in the locker room or, heaven forbid, not re-sign with the club when he's 40 years old?
Now, to be fair, where there is smoke there is often fire (or perhaps a rad smoke machine).
So, if St. Louis does want out of Tampa he could waive his NMC and could very well try and to coerce Yzerman to move him. St. Louis also owns a house in Greenwich, Connecticut which is his wife's hometown so there has been some talk about New York being an attractive destination for him.
But, as Larry Brooks pointed out on the 23rd, Yzerman has no interest in shipping off his leading scorer for a rental player and it's highly unlikely that the Bolts would be willing to pay the kind of money Callahan is asking for (something in the neighborhood of $6.75 million for seven years). It also appears that the Rangers aren't interesting in sending young assets and picks the other way so where does that leave this trade?
To me this trade is blatantly one-sided and not just because Ryan Callahan has the option to walk away from whatever team he might be dealt to. Martin St. Louis might be 38 years old (turning 39 this summer) but he's one of the premier playmaking forwards in the league and his play hasn't declined at all with his advancing age. If St. Louis is on the market the Rangers would be crazy not to pursue him if the asking price was reasonable. Personally, I think it is likely that the Rangers have been pursuing him from what we've heard from the various talking heads. I love Ryan Callahan. I think he's a very good player that has been the heart and soul of this team for a long time now but he isn't as valuable as St. Louis on this planet or any other.
Of course if this trade somehow does happen I will happily eat my hat (I am quite fond of hats as well, so that would be quite a thing) and throw myself naked, slimy, and vulnerable, like a newborn marsupial, upon your collective venomous ridicule and gladly be pelted by any and all half-rotten vegetables you might wish to hurl at me in the coming years. I'll even put myself in a stockade if we can find one. Where does one find a stockade in America?
But somehow I don't think I'll be taking brown, soggy heads of lettuce to my face anytime soon. This one is simply a little too good to be true... but who knows. Like I said earlier crazier things have happened and a lot of crazy things are bound to happen before 3 p.m. on March 5th. I'm sure between now and then we'll hear all kinds of rumors, especially surrounding Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi, and I'm sure there will be more news and twists involving Martin St. Louis but let's remember that is what this time of year is about. Not every rumor comes true, even if it is coming from a source that has a good track record.
Brace yourselves for the next week and a half my friends because it is likely to be an exceptionally crazy deadline day and all signs point to the Rangers being right in the thick of the action.
Let's go Rangers.