Ever since Martin St. Louis was acquired by the New York Rangers in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning for Ryan Callahan and two draft picks, St. Louis has never gotten the full appreciation of the Rangers fans, many of whom had unrealistic expectations when St. Louis arrived.
Many Rangers fans felt that St. Louis was going to right away come to the Rangers and be Rick Nash’s running mate and light the lamp on a consistent basis. These were unrealistic expectations as St. Louis needed to adjust to a new city in New York City, and also to a brand new system. St. Louis put up eight points in his 19 regular season games in the 2013-2014 season. However, a player’s true impact can be felt in the postseason, and St. Louis had a significant impact both on and off the ice during the postseason.
St. Louis had eight postseason goals and seven assists in 25 postseason games, which are not great numbers, however it was the timing of these goals and the impact that he had on the team. When his mother tragically passed away right before Game 5 of the Pittsburgh Penguins series, a series in which the Rangers trailed 3 games to 1, St. Louis managed to remain focused on the team’s goal of winning the Stanley Cup, and was able to be there for his team, even while grieving. In Game 6, St. Louis scored an unforgettable goal in Madison Square Garden on Mother’s Day, and his passion and love for his team helped the Rangers make team history, and beat the Penguins for the first time in a playoff series, and also rally from behind in a series 3 games to 1 for the first time in team history.
Even though the Rangers fell short of the Stanley Cup, they would not have gotten there or pushed the Finals to five games without St. Louis’s timely goals. It was St. Louis who scored the Game 4 goal against the Montreal Canadiens in overtime with a perfect shot. Had St. Louis not scored, perhaps the Rangers would have gone back to Montreal for a best of three with the series tied 2-2 and two out of the next three games in Montreal. It was also St. Louis who scored the winning goal in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals, when he crashed the net of Jonathan Quick, and had the Rangers last best scoring chance, as the team held on for dear life against the assault of the Kings. St. Louis was a huge part of the Rangers run last season, and is underappreciated for the job he did after coming over from Tampa Bay.
In the 2014- 2015 regular season. St. Louis was named an alternate captain, and managed to produce 52 points in 74 games for the Rangers, before hurting his knee near the end of the season. When the postseason came along, St. Louis was clearly not himself, and took a long time to really have an impact. However, once he scored in Game 4 against the Lightning, St. Louis played with a new spark, and was extremely active near the end of the series, even if the stat sheet does not show it. St. Louis had critical chances in the postseason, and whether it was a bounce of the puck or a great defensive play by an opposing player was unable to capitalize as he managed 7 points in 19 postseason games.
Now that St. Louis is a free agent, many Rangers fans simply want him out, and hockey fans are claiming that the Rangers lost out on the trade with Tampa Bay. But did they? Is Ryan Callahan really lighting up the postseason in Tampa Bay? Callahan has 8 points in 24 postseason games and is only making his presence felt in the Stanley Cup Finals because Chicago is so focused on shutting down the Triplets line and Steven Stamkos. This is not to say that Callahan is a bad player because he was a great Ranger and is a solid player for the Lightning but it is highly unlikely that having Callahan would greatly improve the chances of the Rangers or another team.
St. Louis is a scoring threat who teams have to game plan for, while Callahan is a more physical player who looks to fore check and cycle the puck. St. Louis is also much older than Callahan which some fans do not seem to consider when looking at St. Louis as a Ranger. Plus, St. Louis wanted only to be a Ranger, and constantly discusses how he wants to be a Ranger for his career. How could fans not appreciate that? Callahan felt the same way, yet sadly was unable to agree with management.
Martin St. Louis is going to be a free agent and also 40 years of age, and the Rangers should not let him go because he can provide great veteran leadership to players such as Kevin Hayes and J.T Miller, in addition to still being a threat from the third or fourth line when healthy. Fans need to realize that St. Louis is not a top line player anymore, yet still has value where he should not be let go. St. Louis wants to retire a Ranger and would assumingly take a cap friendly deal to remain a Ranger for the next few seasons.
Ranger’s fans are probably hard on St. Louis due to the team’s history of signing big name players who are past their prime and make no impact on the Rangers such as Pavel Bure, Eric Lindros, and Scott Gomez. However, St. Louis is not washed up, although he is past his prime, and he has made his impact on the Rangers by providing the team with veteran leadership and moments from a playoff run that Rangers fans will never forget.