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.
The Tampa Bay Times’ Damian Cristodero acknowledges St-Louis’ exclusion from Team Canada “put a major strain” on his relationship with Yzerman. He also notes the pair have since spoken several times. Cristodero considers it unsurprising some teams would contact Yzerman to enquire into St-Louis’ trade status, but believes dealing him would be a public-relations disaster.
While St-Louis was undoubtedly upset over his initial exclusion from Team Canada, requesting a trade seems out of character for the well-respected Lightning captain. When announcing the Canadian roster, Yzerman took great pains to point out that the selection process was a group decision by him and his advisers. It was in no way a reflection of St-Louis’ play or his value to the Lightning.
St-Louis is basking in the glow of playing for an Olympic gold medal team. He’ll soon be reunited with linemate Stamkos, who’s expected to return to action by early-March. The Lightning are currently perched among the top-four teams in the Eastern Conference and poised to clinch their first playoff berth since 2011. Unless St. Louis is adamant about a trade, there’s little reason for the Bolts to move him.
Regarding Callahan, Brooks claims there was no progress in his contract talks, as GM Glen Sather is unwilling to offer up more than a five-year deal at around $6-million per season. Negotiations with defenseman Dan Girardi are also at an impasse. Sather is apparently willing to move both players before the March 5 trade deadline rather than risk losing them to free agency this summer.
Prior to the Olympic trade freeze, there was a report tying Callahan to the St. Louis Blues in a possible swap for winger Chris Stewart. The Columbus Blue Jackets were also believed scouting him. Rumors have linked Girardi to the Anaheim Ducks and Boston Bruins.
Complicating things is the Rangers’ position in the Eastern Conference standings. They currently hold a playoff spot and were among the league’s hottest teams (winning seven of 10 games) leading up to the Olympic break. Shipping out Callahan and/or Girardi could seriously damage the Blueshirts’ playoff efforts, especially if the return is draft picks, prospects or inexperienced young players. Sather may be listening to offers, but he’ll want a solid return before agreeing to move either guy.
Rumor Roundup appears weekdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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