The facts aren’t wholly apparent, but it sure appears like Lightning captain Martin St. Louis took significant offense to initially being left off Team Canada’s Sochi Olympics roster (he was later named as an injury replacement for teammate Steven Stamkos). Asked Wednesday to comment on recent trade rumors linking him to the New York Rangers, St. Louis responded in a way he had to know was the equivalent of parachuting a crate of fireworks into an oil refinery fire.
St. Louis “left it” without saying his opinion had changed since winning a gold medal with Team Canada, or that he was still invested in remaining with the team for the rest of his career. Either one of those definitive statements would have quashed the issue once and for all, but it remains unquashed and speculation as to the 38-year-old’s future will now intensify both in the short term (i.e. the March 5 trade deadline) and again in the off-season. If Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman does decide to move St. Louis, where are the best fits for both team and player? These teams (in no particular order) make most sense:
1. New York Rangers. St. Louis holds a full no-trade clause, giving him control of his destination in a deal. And because he makes his off-season home in Connecticut, the Blueshirts are rumored to be his first, and perhaps only choice. Rangers captain Ryan Callahan’s name is most prominently mentioned, but the pending unrestricted free agent would need to agree to a contract extension first, and there would likely need to be a draft pick or prospect added to the pot to make the deal palatable for Yzerman. Read more
Less than 24 hours after Canada defeated Sweden to win gold in men’s hockey at the Sochi Olympics, reports emerged claiming the New York Rangers attempted to acquire Tampa Bay Lightning captain Martin St-Louis.
The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports St-Louis was “in and out of play” with the Rangers soon after he was initially passed over by Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman, who is also GM of the Lightning. St-Louis apparently met with Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Yzerman a few weeks apart. Brooks claims Yzerman rejected an offer of Blueshirts captain Ryan Callahan for St-Louis, citing Callahan’s UFA status and his rumored demand of a seven-year deal worth around $6.8 million per season.
Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos also claims St-Louis apparently requested a trade soon after his exclusion from the Canadian team. He writes some NHL clubs aren’t sure the 38-year-old winger, who has a year left on his contract with a no-movement clause, still wants to be moved. St-Louis was ultimately selected for Team Canada after Lightning teammate Steven Stamkos (broken leg) was forced to drop out.
With the NHL’s Olympic roster freeze now lifted, teams have less than 10 days to make moves before the March 5 trade deadline. Given that narrow window of opportunity, trade speculation should significantly ramp up in the coming days.
Much of the focus will be on pending unrestricted free agents from non-playoff clubs. Ryan Miller and Matt Moulson of the Buffalo Sabres, Mike Cammalleri of the Calgary Flames, Ales Hemsky of the Edmonton Oilers and Thomas Vanek of the New York Islanders fall into that category.
Not every player mentioned in the rumor mill is eligible for UFA status this summer, though. Edmonton Oilers center Sam Gagner and St. Louis Blues winger Chris Stewart have contracts that run beyond this season. The trade speculation that followed those players up into the Olympic break should continue right up to deadline day. Read more
The NHL’s Olympic roster freeze passed quietly, disappointing those expecting an early preview of the March 5 trade deadline.
One reason is only five teams (Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers and New York Islanders) can be considered sellers. Another is 23 teams each carry $5 million or less in cap space. Most buyers will wait until next month’s deadline for a little more wiggle room under the cap, hoping more sellers get into the trade market by then.
While GMs are restricted from making deals during the freeze, which runs Feb. 7 to 23, they are permitted to hold trade talks. Those discussions could lay the groundwork for potential moves once the freeze lifts.
Expect most of the focus to remain on Buffalo Sabres’ goaltender Ryan Miller, New York Islanders left winger Thomas Vanek and New York Rangers’ right winger Ryan Callahan. Their eligibility for unrestricted free agency at season’s end made them fodder for speculation prior to the Olympic break.
In what could easily be a gold medal game preview, Evgeni Malkin played short-distance catch with James Neal, before winding up and shooting a screaming shot past Henrik Lundqvist, who could only guess where the puck was going.
New York would go on to win the game 4-3 in a shootout, as they begin their Olympic break.
All this trade talk hasn’t affected New York Rangers captain Ryan Callahan, who erupted for two first period goals and three points Tuesday to power his Blueshirts past the visiting Colorado Avalanche 5-1. It was the 28-year-old’s best single-game offensive output of the season, but more importantly, it was New York’s fourth consecutive win in their race to stay ahead of hard-charging Columbus for second place in the Metropolitan Division.
Callahan’s name has been the main grist for the rumor mills of late, with reports his agent had permission to talk to multiple teams about a contract extension for the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent. But the 28-year-old scored both his goals in a three-and-a-half-minute span late in the first period to set the tone for the Rangers, who have won seven of their past 10 games and are three points ahead of the Blue Jackets, who have a game in hand.
The New York Rangers’ contract negotiations with captain Ryan Callahan took an interesting turn over the weekend. Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports GM Glen Sather allowed “multiple clubs” the opportunity to contact Steve Bartlett, Callahan’s agent, to discuss a contract extension if they acquired him via trade.
The New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard reports that was news to Callahan, who insists his priority is to remain a Ranger. Brooks, meanwhile, claims Sather wants Callahan’s situation resolved before the NHL Olympic roster freeze kicks in at 3 p.m. EST Feb. 7. The Blueshirts’ captain reportedly seeks a seven-year, $42-million contract while Sather prefers a five-year, $30-million deal.
It’s believed the St. Louis Blues are interested in Callahan and Brooks cites sources claiming the Rangers have interest in Blues right winger Chris Stewart. Read more
It was a good night for home teams to start the weekend as the Rangers, Hurricanes, Red Wings, Predators and Jets all sent their fans away happy. The Capitals and Devils were the two visitors that came closest to leaving town with wins in a pair of tilts that featured some late-game dramatics.
Alex Ovechkin scored with just seven seconds left in regulation to send Washington into overtime against Detroit before Patrick Eaves won it for the Wings with the lone snipe in the shootout.
While in Nashville, David Legwand scored with only 11 seconds left to force OT, which allowed Shea Weber to close it out over New Jersey at 1:29 of the extra frame.