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.