In the now immortal words of Ron Burgundy, "Well, that escalated quickly." Just a few days ago the Martin St. Louis rumors started with Boomer Esiason revealing that the New York Rangers had targeted St. Louis in their efforts to trade captain Ryan Callahan due to the two sides not being able to jump some major hurdles in their contract negotiations.
The world of social media reacted accordingly. Some instantly dismissed the rumor because "Boomer doesn't know hockey." Others believed it simply because they wanted to. Many dismissed it because they wanted to. An astute few pointed out that Boomer is actually very well connected in this industry, correctly pinned the end date of the lockout before it happened and might actually be right. But there was some confusion with the report since there was literally no indication from Florida that things were out of place.
A day or two after that, the calm waters of the Tampa Bay trade rumors started to ripple. St. Louis didn't directly deny requesting a trade. General Manager Steve Yzerman didn't comment when asked about the trade situation. Oh? Suddenly the thought of St. Louis moving wasn't so far fetched.
Yesterday things took the most dramatic turn yet. It was confirmed by many people in the know that not only did St. Louis ask for a trade, but he will only accept a trade to the New York Rangers. Since he has a no movement clause, he can dictate where he lands.
This is a significant twist in the plot. With it official that St. Louis will only move to New York, Yzerman's leverage is destroyed. Yes, he can hold onto St. Louis with the hopes that it drives the Rangers' offer up if they fear they won't be able to get him, but I'm not sure that's worth keeping an unhappy player in the locker room. Originally it was reported Yzerman wanted no part of Callahan unless he was assured he was going to stay in Tampa Bay. Now? Well, who knows, things have changed.
The Rangers are obviously interested in St. Louis because of his skill and to a lesser degree his skating. This year St. Louis has 25 goals and 31 assists for 56 points in 58 games. Callahan has 24 points in 42 games. Callahan's highest goal total was 29 in 2011-2012, where he put up his best point total of 54 points.
The big difference here is the age. Callahan is turning 29 in March, St. Louis is turning 39 in June. But St. Louis has shown absolutely no signs of slowing down. In his past three seasons he has 190 points in 183 games. He lead the NHL in points in last year's lockout-shortened season. He's a monster, and if the Rangers can get him, they can expect him to continue being a monster another two years.
Sure, the Lightning (if they can re-sign him) would get more years out of Callahan. But the Rangers have enough of a log jam at forward as it is. Danny Kristo, Oscar Lindberg, Jesper Fast and Marek Hrivik are all in the AHL impressing. Anthony Duclair (50 goals and 98 points in 58 QMJHL games) isn't far behind. Pavel Buchnevich can get here in a couple of years. Maybe Adam Tambellini, too. So maybe it's not the worst thing if the Rangers make some space and save some cap room. Maybe it's not the worst thing if they move on.
I love Ryan Callahan. I love everything about him. But there is no doubt in my mind he's a better fit in a John Tortorella system than an Alain Vigneault system. Vigneault is the coach, Tortorella isn't coming back, is that worth six or seven more years? The Rangers are moving away from the girt and grind and moving towards skill and speed. The transformation is being to take form.
This might be another major step in the process.
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