BOSTON (CBS) — The world most certainly stopped for Boston on Thursday, as the Jarome Iginla fiasco blind-sided the Bruins and the team’s fans all night and day. But now, with Iginla officially a Penguin, the world is spinning again and the Bruins are now forced to move on without him.
While the team is still fighting with the Canadiens for the Northeast Division lead and the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference, it’s clear to those who watch the team closely that the team needs at least one addition if it hopes to contend for a Stanley Cup this June.
So, after believing they acquired Iginla only to be shocked to find out the deal was dead, where do the Bruins go from here?
One name that’s been popping up more and more in recent weeks is Martin St. Louis. He’s a guy with 14 years of NHL experience who is still a big-time point producer. His eight goals and 34 assists this season, at the age of 37, have him fourth in the entire NHL in points, trailing only guys named Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Lightning teammate Steven Stamkos.
Obviously, every team in the NHL would love to have St. Louis join them for the stretch run and playoffs, but there are, of course, obstacles.
Like, for example, this quote given to The Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont by a “well-connected player agent” regarding the chances of Tampa Bay trading St. Louis.
“No way,” the agent told Dupont. “[Tampa Bay GM Steve] Yzerman’s got [young players] there who he wants to be around St. Louis. He’s not going anywhere.”
Seems pretty strong.
(Update: Shortly after this story was published, Yzerman told ESPN, “Marty St. Louis is not going to be traded.” Certainly, GMs have made such statements about players in the past, only to later end up trading the player, but it tells you that Tampa is in no way eager to part ways with St. Louis.)
There’s also the fact that St. Louis, like Iginla, has a no-movement clause and would have to approve any trade involving him. He’s been in Tampa since 2000, and he’s seen the best of times (Stanley Cup in 2004) and the worst of times (playing for Barry Melrose, going 89-118-39 from 2007-10, etc.). This season, with the Lightning at 14-18-1, certainly qualifies as the worst of times, but there’s been no indication at all that St. Louis is eager to move on from Tampa. He still has two years left on his deal after this season, he plays on a line with one of the best players in the game, and he and the Lightning are just two years removed from being within two goals of making the Stanley Cup Final. His situation is hardly as desperate as Iginla’s in Calgary, and he also already has his name engraved on the Cup, which may limit that desire that so many veterans have to chase the Cup late in their careers.
And none of that is even the biggest roadblock to acquiring St. Louis. If the Bruins really want St. Louis, they won’t be alone. Realistically, 25 of the NHL’s 30 teams are still in the hunt for a playoff spot (within four spots of the No. 8 seed), which — if math isn’t your strong suit — leaves just five teams as sellers as the deadline approaches. Those teams are Tampa Bay, Philadelphia and Florida in the East, and Calgary and Colorado in the West.
Let’s go through the list.
From the Flyers, Danny Briere’s name was thrown around in some rumors, but he’s out with a concussion, has a no-movement clause and said in late February that “I can’t see myself playing anywhere else.” And the Flyers may not even be true sellers. They’re a proud organization that is the highest-spending team in the league, so waving a white flag in early April likely won’t be their course of action. Cross that one off the list.
Florida doesn’t have much to offer. X-mark over the Panthers.
Calgary already moved its big asset (a true coup for Jay Feaster, getting two college players and what will likely be the final pick of the first round of the draft in return), and while Jay Bouwmeester’s name has popped up in rumors (an annual tradition!), he’s on the hook for $6.6 million next season, which will limit the list of possible trade partners. Ditto for Michal Cammalleri, who’s due to make $6 million next year and has just 11-13-24 totals this season. There’s not much in Calgary.
The other basement dweller in the West is Colorado, but the Avalanche’s most-desirable players are all players which Colorado will be keeping. That is, unless you’re interested in Paul Stastny’s 19 points for $6.6 million.
(Of course, some of those playoff contenders will have some players available via trade, but most will be under-achievers who “need a change of scenery” and none will bring the offensive talent of St. Louis.)
When you look around at the league’s worst teams, it makes sense that St. Louis’ name has been mentioned as often as it has. He’s very clearly the best player from the league’s worst teams, and he’s on a 100-point pace if this were an 82-game season. Obviously, teams that feel as though they’re one skilled forward away from being a true Cup contender would love to add him.
But, even if St. Louis does hope to leave Tampa Bay, the price tag will be sky-high. It’s going to cost more than a couple of NCAA players and a draft pick, due to the crowded buyer’s market and the lack of desperation on Tampa’s part to rid itself of a great veteran player.
For the Bruins, it’s hard to gauge what it would actually take to acquire St. Louis if he were to be made available, but it would be even harder to believe the Bruins would come out of an exchange as a much-improved team, given what they would have to ship to Tampa Bay.
Boston fans might be unusually vulnerable to another emotional letdown after the Iginla saga earlier this week, so in the case of St. Louis, it’s best for everyone to not get their hopes up.