Martin St. Louis trade rumors to the Pens...Is it realistic?

A wise man* yesterday floated the idea of Martin St. Louis becoming a Pittsburgh Penguin. Apparantely there's some smoke behind the wishful thinking, as various "chatter" has arisen between the two organ-eye-zations, as The Fourth Period reported earlier today and Puck Daddy expanded on.

(*OK, a fool)

But could it work?  Let's take a step back and look at this trade again:

The two sides of the coin on why Martin St. Louis to the Pens is still a little far-fetched, but if you look deep, it still could have some merit:

#1 Martin St. Louis has a no trade clause.

TAILS: The biggest reason the deal might not happen. St. Louis doesn't have to go anywhere if he doesn't want to. And hey, who could fault a guy for wanting to keep his family in warm and sunny Tampa. The place where his good buddy Vinny Lecavalier is. The place that gave St. Louis a second chance in the NHL when 29 other teams didn't want him. The place he won the Stanley Cup. (Notice how many of these events happened in the past and nothing for the future...)

HEADS: But then again, Tampa is a mess, thanks to the new circus of knee-jerk management in town. 42 different players ave suited up for them this season--including a staggering 17 defensmen. Other Lightning highlights this year include:

-Bullying a respect member of the team (Dan Boyle) into accepting a trade or risk exposing him to waivers

-Signing Lecavalier to "lifetime" 13 year deal last summer and then have talk of trading him crop up this winter

-Reportedly (although falsely) that they would financially be unable to meet bonus payments for Lecavalier and Ryan Malone.

The weather in Tampa might be warm, but it's certainly stormy, eh?

#2 Ray Shero may not want to meet the asking price

TAILS: Shero is a patient man. If anything, Shero's shown he's not just going to fire a coach mid-season or make a drastic trade to shake things up. He's content with the roster he has (if healthy) and makes most of his efforts to shape the team during the summer; allowing his players and coaches to take over and do their jobs during the season. Shero did stray from this philosophy with the home-run swing for Marian Hossa; a move proven to be the right call given Hossa's playoff performance and the fact the Pens wouldn't have gotten two games to the Cup without him. This season, as we all know, is a different story. The Pens aren't battling for the Atlantic division and to be #1 in the Eastern Conference, they're clawing their hearts out just to make it to the playoffs.

HEADS: A lot depends on what Tampa's price is. They had no problems shipping a legitimate number 1 defenseman in Boyle (plus veteran Brad Lukowich) to the Sharks for young defensemen Matt Carle, Ty Wishart and a 1st round pick. Shortly thereafter, they flipped Carle to Philadelphia for Steve Eminger, so it's difficult to get a bearing on just what they might do.  It didn't seem like they really maximized value on Boyle, and if they're looking to move St. Louis just as flippantly, clearly that plays into a team like Pittsburgh's favor.

 

#3 Martin St. Louis shouldn't even be on the trading block anyways

TAILS: Supposedly, the reason Tampa is interested in trading him is to remove his $5.25 million salary from the books. While $5.25 million is an extraordinary amount of money, it's a somewhat reasonable contract for a legitimate top line scoring winger. Plus Tampa can sell off guys with expiring contracts like Marek Malik, Matt Pettinger and old friends Mark Recchi and Gary Roberts. But expiring contracts will only go so far, Tampa has about $36.5 million on the books for contract next season, and that only covers 14 players. Lecavalier, his $7.7 million cap hit, and impending no-trade clause, isn't going anywhere. Ryan Malone's cap hit is $4.5 million for six more years (seems like an anchor now, huh?), but if the Lightning were really hard pressed to trade a vet; how about Vinny Prospal? After this season he's got three more years and another reasonable rate of $3.5 million.

HEADS: Trading St. Louis would save almost $2 million more a season, and Prospal isn't going to return anything near the caliber of players/prospects/draft picks that the diminutive St. Louis could.

#4 Salary cap considerations

From the salary cap aspect: for the Penguins to make it work, Tampa's going to have to acquire almost the same amount of salary for this season. That could be overcome by the Lightning receiving a "dead weight" expiring contract like Miroslav Satan ($3.5 million) or Philippe Boucher ($2.5 million) in addition to what they really want: younger players with talent. Is Tampa interested in Ryan Whitney, or is his $4 million tag a bit too much and they'd rather have a younger player like Alex Goligoski. Would they insist on getting a young forward like Dustin Jeffrey or Luca Caputi?

If so, Shero might be wisely hesitant to deal a combination like Caputi, Goligoski and Satan for St. Louis. Even though salary wise it would about work out*, does he really want to further diminish the organization's young talent by dealing two players with a high ceiling? Even if the deal is Whitney, Jeffrey and a pick for St. Louis is that the best long-term option for Pittsburgh?

*this would probably still leave Pittsburgh a little over the cap and probably have to make another move to shed a little salary

Even though it would be awesome to add a player like St. Louis to the Penguins, it's not worth overpaying for, so the Lightning's price for him obviously is key.

So all in all, don't go customizing that #26 St. Louis jersey yet, Pens fans.  There's still a lot that has to go down before the best player who's played for the Penguins, that's under 6'0 tall and who's name starts with "Martin S" isn't Martin Straka.

---

If you're running the Pens and Tampa is asking for either scenario I mention in the hypothetical poll, would you pull the trigger on that trade to get Sidney Crosby the skilled winger he needs?

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