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DEAL: Martin St. Louis to the NY Rangers for Ryan Callahan, a first (2015), a second (2014) that can become a first if the Rangers make the Conference Final.

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Yesterday I wrote a blurb on the New York Rangers that implied they were one big piece up front from being a legitimate contender in the East. Well, here we are.

Adding Martin St. Louis gives the Rangers one the best top-sixes in the Eastern Conference (possibly the best, actually) to compliment their quality d-corps and great goaltending. While they haven’t exactly torn it up so far this season, their roster suddenly looks like one you could see in the Cup Final. The East is definitely still up for grabs.

I’m pretty sure the reaction is going to be that the Lightning got fleeced, and while they certainly didn’t get better this year, Steve Yzerman seems to have a plan. I believe he looked at his roster, and recognized that they aren’t a Cup contender. I also believe he learned enough in Detroit about building a team that his goal isn’t to be sorta good for a long time – it’s to get to that shiny silver thing. Building a team like that takes patience.

Knowing that, I think he put more value in the picks than the actual return of Callahan. If the rumors are true and he doesn’t intend to sign the Rangers (former) captain, he’s got himself a rental that can be a part of the puzzle as his team gains experience in playoffs, and he can hopefully draft a few more of the missing pieces he believes they need to get over the top.

And, we should probably also remember, he was dealing with a disgruntled player in Martin St. Louis whose value was never going to be higher that only wanted to go to one team. He was going to lose him in the summer of 2015 anyway, so it’s not so terrible to get good return before it’s too late.

The Rangers improved, and the Lightning got worse…for now. The team making the push just became an immediate threat, while Tampa’s future got brighter. At the very least, the deal makes sense for both sides.