Martin St. Louis spoke with the New York Post's Larry Brooks and provided some in-depth thoughts on a lot of topics. The most noteworthy quotes came from his discussing of his career beyond this season. From the article:
"'There’s no doubt that I want to play next year. Period,' he said. 'And for sure, yes, I want to play here. I want to finish my career as a Ranger.
'There’s no doubt about that either.'"
St. Louis, who turns 40 in June, will become a free agent on July 1st. Per Brooks, though the Rangers and St. Louis had preliminary talks during the season, both sides are comfortable waiting until the offseason to have discussions. That is probably for the best. St. Louis is an emotional player, which is great, but could become a problem if he were to let contract talks affect his focus for the playoffs. As for the Rangers, they a lot of things to consider with a tight cap situation and in the summer will have a better idea of the direction they want to go.
Even with some big slumps this season and lowly possession numbers, St. Louis is still doing a lot of good things. His 21 goals and 50 points in 73 games - some of which were spent playing center when Stepan was injured - are nothing to blow off. It's also pretty obvious that he's an important figure in the locker room. Not the worst asset to have with an extremely young leadership group transitioning into the role.
The problems for the Rangers are two-fold. The cap situation is very delicate, with Marc Staal and Mats Zuccarello already on the books for raises next season as well as Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin expecting meaningful raises. J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast, also RFAs will receive minor bumps in salary as well. The Rangers also have to like their odds in one of Pavel Buchnevich or Oscar Lindberg being ready to make an impact at the NHL next season, who would be cheaper alternatives to St. Louis.
It's going to come down to a few major conditions. He'll need to accept that he's not going to be paid as much as he was previously, and probably not even as much as he deserves. Because the salary he deserves and the salary the Rangers can afford to give him under the salary cap are two different things.
He also will need to swallow his pride and accept a reduced role. At this point, it's becoming clear that Carl Hagelin or J.T. Miller would be a more well-rounded player to sit in the top-six; St. Louis simply doesn't have the ability to play an elite 200-foot game anymore. However, as he is showing now on the Hayes line, he very much can be an asset on an offensive line playing sheltered minutes as well as on the power play.
St. Louis could very easily get much more money and a bigger role elsewhere, but that doesn't seem to be anywhere on his radar. It can be hard for a player like St. Louis - a future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, to put aside his ego and not take a reduction in role and salary. Teemu Selanne is a prime example of this. But if St. Louis is willing to do it then he and the Rangers should be able to agree on another season.