NEW YORK (AP) — In a surprising move just hours before the NHL trade deadline, the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning pulled off a major deal on Wednesday, swapping captains Ryan Callahan and Martin St. Louis in a blockbuster.
The Rangers had been trying to sign Callahan, who can become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but weren’t able to reach an agreement with the gritty forward. Instead of risking losing him for nothing on the open market, New York dealt him, a second-round pick in this year’s draft, and a first round pick in next year’s draft to Tampa Bay for St. Louis, a disgruntled two-time NHL scoring champion.
The second-round selection this year would become a first-rounder if the Rangers reach the Eastern Conference finals this season. If Callahan re-signs with the Lightning, the teams will then trade picks in next year’s draft. New York would acquire the Lightning’s second-round pick, and Tampa Bay would get New York’s seventh-round selection.
Callahan was reportedly seeking a six-year deal worth $6.5 million per season. It is believed the Rangers were willing to agree to a six-year term, but not pay more than $6 million a season.
The 38-year-old St. Louis, who led the NHL in the lockout-shortened 2013 season with 60 points, had been seeking a trade after initially being left off Canada’s Olympic roster by Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, who served as Canada’s executive director. St. Louis was added to the squad when Lightning teammate Steven Stamkos was unable to play because of injury.
Callahan, a Rochester, N.Y., native, was a member of the U.S. Olympic team at the Sochi Games.
St. Louis had a no-trade clause, and recent reports stated the Rangers were the team he wanted to join. The 38-year-old right wing has one year left on his contract. He will earn $5 million next season and be a $5.625 million salary-cap charge.
“We’d like to thank Marty for everything he has done on and off the ice during his outstanding 13-year career in Tampa Bay,” Yzerman said in a statement. “He has been one of the greatest players in the organization’s history, but in the end we honored his request.”
This trade reunites St. Louis with forward Brad Richards, who was his high-scoring teammate with Tampa Bay before the Lightning traded him to Dallas in February 2008. Richards signed a free-agent deal with the Rangers in July 2011.
St. Louis was the Hart Trophy winner as NHL MVP in the 2003-04 season. In 62 games this season, St. Louis has 29 goals and 32 assists with a plus-12 rating.