The report that Rangers general manager Glen Sather has inquired about acquiring Lightning captain Marty St. Louis in a trade should not be a surprise.
You have to figure Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman took several calls after St. Louis was left off Canada's original Olympic roster. That put a major strain on St. Louis' relationship with Yzerman, who was Team Canada's executive director.
Why wouldn't teams call to see if the relationship was so broken the Lightning would consider trading its captain?
With the NHL trade deadline March 5, the Rangers trying to trade captain Ryan Callahan (so they don't lose him for nothing as an unrestricted free agent) and St. Louis owning a house in Greenwich, Conn., as Lightning star Steven Stamkos said, "People … put the connection together."
Even so, "I don't think any of it is true," Stamkos said about the trade talk, first reported in the New York Post.
Especially if the swap would be St. Louis straight up for Callahan. If that was the offer, Sather either doesn't know Yzerman very well or he was simply fishing as part of his attempt to trade Callahan. Yzerman is all about keeping and acquiring young talent that helps insulate the organization from salary cap pressures and feeds the conveyor belt from the minors that keeps the franchise invigorated.
In other words, it is highly unlikely Yzerman would go for a one-for-one swap for Callahan, especially with the possibility Callahan only would be a rental before free agency.
Even the Post reported Sather was not willing to give up the additional prospects and/or draft choices it would take for Yzerman to even consider a deal.
St. Louis also has a no-move clause in his contract, though Bob McKenzie wrote on tsn.ca of whispers St. Louis was angered enough by the Olympic snub he would waive the clause for the Rangers.
St. Louis, at 38, is having a strong season with 25 goals, 56 points in 58 games. Tampa Bay also is close to getting Stamkos back from his broken tibia and the team, third in the East, has a chance to do some damage in the playoffs.
The deal would have to be pretty sweet for Yzerman to tinker with team chemistry, the locker room and the expected outcry from fans.
Callahan, 28, also is believed to be looking for a six-year deal at about $6.75 million a season. That seems more than Tampa Bay would commit to a player who, though the type of gritty leader teams desire, has been injured and is struggling with 11 goals, 24 points in 42 games.
St. Louis has one year left on his deal with a salary cap hit of $5.625 million.
The relationship between St. Louis and Yzerman clearly took a hit. But the two have spoken several times, and St. Louis' acknowledgment that Yzerman had a tough job in picking Canada's Olympic team indicates a thaw. Owner Jeff Vinik also met with St. Louis.
And St. Louis did get to the Olympics, and won gold, as Stamkos' replacement.
And as Stamkos said, "A gold medal will heal a lot of things."
As for the March 5 trade deadline, "It's natural for the next 10 days for these rumors to start," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "I'm surprised we haven't heard more of them."
Damian Cristodero can be reached at [email protected]