St.. Louis to New York is a Gamble

By Russ Cohen

The New York Rangers traded their longtime captain, Ryan Callahan a first and second round pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Martin St. Louis. St. Louis is the better offensive player but Callahan has grit, determination, character and he made time and space for other players by playing in the crease. Now the Rangers are without a player to do that.

It’s great to get a skilled offensive player like St. Louis, even at his age (38 soon to be 39) but soon his game will slow down and the Rangers have to hope that doesn’t happen in the next year and change. That’s a huge gamble , paying Callahan would have been a better solution. St. Louis will play on a line with Brad Richards and Carl Hagelin. It’s an upgrade offensively.

The Rangers have a lot of unsigned players for next year, St. Louis won’t be one of them, so that’s a plus. St. Louis does get reunited with Brad Richards, who’s game has slowed down lately, but this isn’t 2004 its 2014. Back then I wrote that Tampa had a chance to be a repeat Cup winner, they had a young core, that core is now completely gone (Vinny LeCavalier on the Flyers is the other piece of that).

Now if the Rangers make it to the Conference Finals (something they’ve done once since 1997) this year they will have traded two first round picks, 1 in 2014 and 1 in 2015. The Rangers may be getting a 7th as well at that point (this information could change).

If they don’t it’s a 2014 2nd and a 2015 first. The Rangers better hope they don’t tank in 2015 or Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and a bunch of other talented prospects will be thinking about playing in Tampa. Either way Tampa has put themselves in great position since the 2015 draft is very strong. They are competing for a Cup, have Steven Stamkos back and have their future intact. Steve Yzerman has done a masterful job here even if they don’t retain Callahan.

The Rangers started drafting in the third round last year and this year they will have a first in a weaker draft (unless they reach the Conference Finals) and many other mid-to late round picks, again in a weaker draft. If they don’t win the Stanley Cup the franchise will feel the effects down the road. They have some almost NHL ready players in Hartford but after that there’s at least a 2-3 year gap until they have any significant offensive players joining the big club.

Have the Rangers made themselves better today? Yes. But they did that with Rick Nash  last year and still lost in the second round of the playoffs with John Tortorella. Are they any better than a 2nd round team this year? Their defense is among the league’s best as of late, Henrik Lundqvist falls in that category as well but their offense is below average, currently ranked at 19th even with new coach, Alain Vigneault at the helm with mostly Tortorella style players. Can it get into the Top 10? I think there’s a chance but did this move make them better than Tampa, Pittsburgh or Boston? I don’t think so but only time will tell.