In St. Louis trade, Rangers win the present, but will Lightning win the future?
While the Lightning was eliminated a month ago, former captain Marty St. Louis skates on, leading the Rangers to within one win of reaching the Stanley Cup Final.
"We've put ourselves in a good spot right now," St. Louis said before tonight's Game 6 at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers up 3-2 over the Canadiens. "But we've accomplished nothing yet."
St. Louis' hands are all over New York's improbable run, from his 13 playoff points to how his new teammates rallied around him when his mother, France, died a few weeks ago. And despite being a Ranger for less than three months, photos of him are all over the wall at Madison Square Garden.
Now, trades should be evaluated after years, but so far, the Rangers have fared better in the blockbuster deadline deal that swapped St. Louis for New York captain Ryan Callahan and two draft picks. Callahan played well for Tampa Bay, providing the type of grit and toughness the team needed, but admittedly didn't perform like he wanted as the Lightning got swept by Montreal in the first round. And the Rangers can punch their ticket to the finals tonight, bringing them a step closer to their first title since 1994.
However, in the long-term, the Lightning very well may end up ahead in this trade. One key aspect would be if Tampa Bay could re-sign Callahan, who becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1; both sides appear open to it, and have continued talks, though Callahan will likely at least test the waters and see what's out there.
Plus, the Lightning now has two extra first-round picks from the deal, giving them two first-rounders in June's draft as well as in 2015. That presents general manager Steve Yzerman with even more bargaining chips when it comes to trades, which could eventually lead to bringing in another top-4 defenseman, one of the team's biggest offseason needs.
"We're happy to have two first-round picks, two this year and two next year," Yzerman said. "We feel with all four of those we have the potential to get four very good prospects that will help us in the future. Obviously it gives you the opportunity to use those picks to trade up and trade down, or to use those picks to acquire a player that may help us sooner. Using the picks to acquire players, we'll see between now and the draft if there's any possibilities out there, but it's definitely something to consider."