Martini: St. Louis Trade Could Reap Big Rewards For Bolts
As Tampa Bay fans learned over the summer, Lightning owner Jeffrey Vinik is a business savvy man. With the buyout of long-time captain Vincent Lecavalier, Vinik showed Bolts fans how he became the manager of one of the top hedge funds in the world…by following the old adage ‘buy low, sell high.’ Even though he wasn’t present when Martin St. Louis debuted for the Bolts on October 6, 2000, he is once again in the position to sell high. (Photo/Susan Ferlita)
Prior to being named to team Canada as an injury replacement for Steven Stamkos, St. Louis’ stock was rising near an all-time high. So far this season, Marty’s numbers are impressive with 25 goals, 31 assists and a +15 rating while playing mostly with youngsters Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson. Also rising is St. Louis age as this summer he will turn 39 with one year remaining on his deal.
Now let’s turn to the speculation. Almost as the gold medal was being placed around St. Louis’ neck, a report from Boomer Esiason surfaced claiming that he was being traded to the New York Rangers for Ryan Callahan. Callahan is a pending unrestricted free agent who is looking for a deal worth well more than he can play up to. Of course, as the hours passed and the trade freeze thawed, no such move was made. This could be because of the Rangers’ refusal to give up draft picks and Lightning GM Steve Yzerman’s reluctance to trade away his captain for a rental player. If the stories are true and St. Louis only wants to go to the Rangers, there is either going to be a shift in the Rangers front office thoughts about giving up draft picks or they must get a third team involved.
A lot of teams around the league would love to add the reigning scoring champion, but the team that looks most interesting to bring into the mix is the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks are in an interesting spot as they’re trying to rebuild and sign the Sedin twins to an extension at the same time. A possible deal would net Vancouver either Ryan Callahan or defenseman Dan Girardi. This would allow the Canucks the ability to take some salary off the books while getting a player who could continue to make them a playoff team. Either Callahan or Girardi should be able to slide almost seamlessly into the Canucks lineup under former head coach John Tortorella. The Rangers would then get Marty St. Louis from the Tampa Bay Lightning.
This is where things would get interesting for the Bolts. The door may open to the possibility of Tampa Bay getting what the fans have been screaming for…a top four defenseman in the form of Alexander Edler. Edler has been looking for a trade from Vancouver, but would also have to waive his no trade clause for this to happen. This deal would add a solid blueliner to the Lightning’s defensive core in preparation for Sami Salo leaving or more likely retiring. The downside to Edler is that he has been injury prone in the past and signing him long term could handcuff the Lightning. There is also an opportunity to add some offense with the trade for Canucks forward Ryan Kesler. A former Selke Trophy winner, Edler could fit in as a top six gritty forward who would add some character to the lineup. This move would keep Kesler in Tampa Bay until 2015-2016 with a cap hit of $5 million per year which would be affordable as the cap rises.
Of course there are other teams that could make this trade work and this is only one of the options. There is one more pressing issue for the Bolts. Trying to sell high with Marty. Steve Yzermen won’t move St. Louis before the deadline. With Steven Stamkos coming back and the Rangers being the sole trade partner, this whole situation will carry over into the off-season. St, Louis will have more time to think about leaving and hopefully, he will remain the Captain of a team that just made a deep playoff run.
When Vincent Lecavalier was bought out, it was seen as a business decision because of his albatross contract. St. Louis’ recent trade request looks like an emotional one. Does Marty feel he could play another year or two after his current contract is up? His numbers say he can, but there may come a time where he sees that it is better to ride off into the sunset as a Stanley Cup winner, a gold medalist and most importantly, the face of a franchise, instead of playing somewhere else.
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