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Mid-season Trade Paying Off For New York Rangers
- Updated: May 27, 2014
It wasn’t too long ago that the New York Rangers, who are one win away from reaching the Stanley Cup Final, were dealing with their own dilemma for the present and future of the organization.
Captain Ryan Callahan, 29, was in the final year of his current contract, seeking a long-term payday to remain with the Rangers where he had played his whole career. The Rangers, at first, offered Callahan a long-term contract extension, but was turned down in hopes of adding another year and $1-2 million per year increase on the offer.
When talks slowed down with the Olympics, the Rangers began looking at their second option, which was to trade their captain in hopes of acquiring assets for the future. It became the talk of the hockey world after the Sochi Olympics, just before the trade deadline. Would one of the original six hockey clubs actually trade their captain away?
The date of the trade deadline approached, and the Rangers decided to make a bold move to bolster their franchise. Not only did the Rangers trade their captain away, but also their 2014 second round draft pick and a first round pick in 2015 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. In return, the team landed Martin St. Louis, the captain for the Lightning who had his own issues with the general manager that season, and a conditional second round pick in 2015.
At first, many felt the Lightning were the clear winners of the trade. Not only did they acquire two draft picks to build for the future, but they acquired a captain nearly 10 years the elder of St. Louis (38) as well. The remainder of the regular season seemed to help prove the cause as well, as St. Louis only had one goal in the final 19 games in the season.
But once the postseason came, things took a dramatic turn for both teams.
The Tampa Bay Lightning had home ice in the first round against the Montreal Canadiens, feeling confident in advancing with a shot against Boston or Detroit in the next round. Instead, the Lightning got swept, and Callahan failed to score a single point in the playoffs.
Meanwhile, fate turned for St. Louis in New York. who got hot, and sparked the New York Rangers into serious contenders in the eastern conference. His leadership and play making ability added to the firepower the Rangers had to move on. After the first round series win, New York faced a tough series with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the next round.
The series did not start well for the Rangers, who found themselves down 3-1 in the series. The series also played a heavy toll on St. Louis, who lost is mother just days before Mother’s Day. The team, needing to be strong for their newly acquired captain, chose to play hard and rally behind their teammate. The result was a comeback series win over Pittsburgh, aided by the play of St. Louis. He scored a key goal in the 3-1 win in Game 6, and had the assist on the game winning goal in the 2-1 Game 7 win on the road.
Reaching the eastern conference finals, the team had grown closer rallying behind St. Louis, and his play elevated on to the next round. In the first four games against the Canadiens, he has scored at least a point in every game. His first multi-point game of the postseason came in the 7-2 blowout win in Game 1. In overtime of Game 4, he scored the game winning goal, bringing the Rangers one step closer to playing for its first Stanley Cup since winning it in 1994.
The gamble the Rangers displayed this season has paid off, and could do so in an even bigger way if St. Louis’ hot play continues going forward. New York has its first shot to clinch a bid in the Stanley Cup Final Tuesday night in Montreal, leading the series 3-1. Game time between the Rangers and Canadiens is at 6pm ET on NBCSN.
Follow Brandon Boles on Twitter: @BrandonBoles
(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Seth Wenig)