TAMPA, FL - MARCH 23:  Martin St. Louis #26 of the Tampa Bay Lightning heads to heads ice before the start of the game against the Carolina Hurricanes at the St. Pete Times Forum on March 23, 2010 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Talking to the press on Monday after the firing of his head coach and his general manager, Martin St. Louis did not sound like a man willing to patiently wait while the team around him was rebuilt, and he hinted that perhaps Tampa Bay was no longer an ideal fit for him:

 

"I want to be on a winning team.  It’s three years of this and (we’re going) back to square one, so I want to be on a winning team. That’s the biggest thing. I’m not getting any younger. We’ll see how it all shakes out this summer."

 

It’s difficult to blame St. Louis for being frustrated.  He may have had his most dominant season before the lockout, back in 2003-04, but he’s averaged 90 points over the past four seasons and only been in the playoffs once – recording eight points in just six games.

 

If St. Louis – who turns 35 this summer – is serious about joining a winning franchise, and if he believes the Lightning are not going to be a winning franchise in the near future, the team may have no choice but to trade him.  St. Louis’ current deal expires at the end of next season, at which point he’s free to do whatever he wants and there isn’t much the Lightning can do about it.

 

He was the team’s best player over the past season, and if they’re looking for a quick turnaround his name must be near the bottom of players they’ll be looking to move.  But they certainly can’t let him go for nothing. 

 

The bottom end of the Eastern Conference is weak enough that it’s plausible the Lightning could jump into playoff contention next season, particularly given the core of young players they have.  If they do so, they’ll want St. Louis on board, and thus won’t want to trade him in the summer.  On the other hand, his value is likely to be higher in the summer than at next season’s trade deadline if the Lightning find themselves out of the playoff race.

 

It’s a difficult situation, and it may be best for the team to move him sooner rather than later.

Comments (16)

  1. I could see San Jose try to pick him up if the loose Marleau in the summer, in St Louis they would be adding yet another player with cup winning experience. I doubt however there wouldnt be to many teams not wanting a player like St.Louis thats for sure. If Tampa is serious about re-tooling I can see both St.Louis and Vinny being dealt. Both players going for a 1st round draft pick and probly a prospect at the very least.

  2. This could be a very big couple of months going forward for the Lightning franchise. They will have to decide how they are going to build this team. Will be around Stamkos or will they keep their age veterans and try to go for the 3 star players like what they had with Richard, St Louis and Lecavalier before? Certainly both are worth a first rounder this year and next year. The one issue for the Lightning would be their contracts and that any team taking them from them will probably have to send one or two players the other way likely giving them little to no cap relief. I guess it all comes down to whether the new owners think they’ll be better to keep them around or ship them off both for right now and in the future.

  3. Lecavalier’s contract is probably pretty damn close to immovable. He’s a 29 year old forward on a 7.7 million dollar cap hit until he is 40. He brings very little besides offense to a team, and his offense the last two years has only been 70 points or so a season. Additionally, his actual dollar cost is 10 million until after the 2016 season. Factor in the fact that almost everybody’s numbers go down when they leave the Southeast and I can’t think of why I would give up significant assets for him. If you could get him for a shorter problem contract on a cap team, maybe he’s worth the risk, but if he doesn’t get back to being a 90+ point forward, that’s an anchor for a very long time.

    Of course, I didn’t think Gomez’s contract was particularly moveable either, so what do I know.

  4. Oh, and to say something on topic, St. Louis probably has quite a bit of value right now. An expiring 5.5 million dollar cap hit for a guy who has consistenly put up points like he has over the past 4 seasons is pretty damn good. Plus he’s a more well rounded player than Lecavalier and I think brings more to a team beyond his numbers, despite what their relative sizes would suggest. A much more logical acquisition for a team like LA than Kovalchuk would be, I think, even if they have to give up something good to get him.

  5. kaberle, grabovski and finger (whos been a reasonable defenseman but overpaid)/ exelby for St. Louis, salary dump and draft pick. That way toronto can boost a St.Louis kadri kessel line next year hopefully st.louis can have the same effect on kessel and kadri that he had on stamkos this year.

  6. @MattM

    I think you half nailed it on the head with Lecavalier but I do know a team that would go after him and you actually made a possible trade pop into my head. Here goes Price and Gomez to Tampa for Lecavalier and Mike Smith. Montreal is love with Vinny and will need a decent back-up next year. Tampa needs a goalie and Gomez could come in and help lead a young team. St.Louis will most likely end up out west (still think San Jose) maybe even the Ducks will try for him considering they are most likely about to loose Ryan.

  7. Bruce: Grabovski & Kaberle wouldn’t be a bad package in exchange, but I can’t see anyone taking that miserable Finger contract off Toronto’s hands. Also, Exelby’s a free agent, so while Tampa Bay could take him that’s a curious inclusion.

  8. Also, Bruce: If St. Louis will only play for a winning team, why would he stay in Toronto when his contract expires?

  9. @Jonathan Willis

    Grabovski and Kaberle will end up in a ducks uniform next year for Ryan. Niedmyer will retire and Koivu wont be back either. So to me it would be wise for the Ducks to equire some sorta back-up plan and I dont think Ryan wants to stay. The other deal and can see and this one’s more of a stretch J.Staal for Grabo and Kabby. As I dont think Pitts can fit Gonchar under the cap next year.

  10. @ Bruce
    FInger will be bought out or sent down to the minors either way dont expect to see him on the leafs again. I truly think the Leafs will make a D-spot available for Aulie and Mikus to fight over still. Phanuef, Schenn, Beauch, Komi and Gunnarson all have spots Kaberle would be six but I think he’s gone for sure.

  11. alrighty i know gomez is being paied a lot but he hast played bad this year, and i think if you trade hm would that frsutrate gionta?? either way i would love to see montreal get st.louis i think hed be a great fit with camerlari

  12. @Rsmotors

    Um, why would either Anaheim or Pittsburgh give up their third best forward for a small, one-dimensional forward and defenseman who’ll be a UFA at the end of next season?

  13. Jon,

    Tampa needs defenseman and finger while he does have a horrible contract he was quite the capable defenseman and his stats suggested that he didnt deserve his reputation he had in toronto. your right about exelby his contract is up hes useless although you could include his rights with the other two for just st.louis and salary dump and no draft pick maybe. As for staying in toronto who knows but if toronto only gives up kaberle and grabovski for him i think that would well be worth the risk and if we make the playoffs it could get st.louis to stay. Although there could be other options like sending kaberle for a young player and a pick and signing marleau as an FA and hope he could have a st.louis impact on kessel and kadri

  14. @marc

    its all about handcuffing a team. Kaberle can be a good defenseman and getting kaberle, grabovski and a depth prospect for ryan is a better deal than getting screwed in a deal like the one that helped san jose get a 50 goal scorer. It may not add up on paper but when you add the fact ryan doesnt look like he wants to sign in anaheim then it adds another factor. The other invaluable thing is cap space kaberle is being paid 4 mill thats one heck of a bargain and that increases his trade potential by leaps and bounds and even though his contract is up a year from now hes never been the type of player to hold out for a huge contract and this is what makes kaberle much more appealing than a scott gomez (7 mill for 40 points…wtf) and even more appealing that a player like lecavalier to some teams.

  15. Bruce: Finger has negative value. He’s a third-pairing defenceman getting paid better than 3MM/yr. I would be shocked if Tampa Bay had any interest in him.

  16. Depending on what the cap does this year, StLouis should consider a year or two in Pittburg playing on Crosby’s wing.

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