Scott Cullen has some post-Olympic notes on Martin St. Louis trade rumours, Team Canada in 2018 as well as NHL Olympic participation in Pyeongchang, South Korea (and beyond).
1. The Internet was abuzz, following the Olympics, about the possibility of the Tampa Bay Lightning dealing leading scorer Martin St. Louis to New York for Rangers captain Ryan Callahan.
This was my initital reaction.
That isn't to say that the Lightning might not deal St. Louis because, if he's really unhappy after the whole Olympic team selection fiasco, then that might be the impetus for movement. However, the Lightning are in third place in the Eastern Conference, which means they aren't just going to give him away, and there are several issues at play with regards to St. Louis' future with the team.
First, since St. Louis has a no-movement clause, the Lightning are at his mercy should they decide to trade him. If St. Louis says that his preferred destination is the Rangers, because he lives in nearby Connecticut, then you can expect the Rangers to avoid paying fair market value, instead paying closer to monopolistic value, not unlike the Pittsburgh Penguins offered to the Calgary Flames for Jarome Iginla last season.
Additionally, if the Lightning are going to shop St. Louis, wouldn't it make much more sense to do it in the offseason, when they might be able to get a better quality return, or perhaps open the trade talks to more than one team (it's not like Manhattan is the only NHL location relatively close to Connecticut)?
Whatever the deal ends up being, there is little reason for the Lightning to deal St. Louis, straight-up, for an inferior winger with an expiring contract. Maybe Callahan plus works, but it would definitely depend on the plus. The reigning scoring champion can't just be peddled out of town at a cut-rate price if a franchise is going to be seen as legitimate.
Considering how torn Lightning GM Steve Yzerman must have been throughout this process, it's no wonder that he's had enough as Team Canada GM after back-to-back Olympic gold medals.
2. The 2014 Olympics were barely finished before Mike Johnson was tasked with projecting Team Canada for 2018.
Obviously, this requires a lot of projection, going four years ahead of time, but here are some 2014 players that are likely due to be replaced because of age: Roberto Luongo, Mike Smith, Chris Kunitz, Patrick Sharp, Martin St. Louis, Jay Bouwmeester, Dan Hamhuis, Patrick Marleau, Rick Nash and Jeff Carter, all of whom are 29 or older this season. There could easily be more turnover, but filling those 8-10 spots seems a reasonable starting point.
In net, I would add Jonathan Bernier (who I would have taken in 2014) to Carey Price. As the number three goaltender, I lean to a younger player like Braden Holtby, even if he's going through some tough times this season.
On the blueline, with the right side staying the same -- Drew Doughty, Shea Weber, Alex Pietrangelo, P.K. Subban, along with Duncan Keith and Marc-Edouard Vlasic on the left -- that leaves room for a couple of new faces. Today, I'll go with Ryan Murray and Travis Hamonic ahead of Morgan Rielly and Brenden Dillon.
Up front, after bringing back Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, John Tavares, Jamie Benn, Matt Duchene and Patrice Bergeron, I add Steven Stamkos, Tyler Seguin, Taylor Hall, Claude Giroux, Logan Couture and Nathan MacKinnon to get to 14 forwards. It pains me to pass over Blue Jackets C Ryan Johansen, but he's one that I find intriguing.
The debate will surely rage, but maybe we can put it aside for at least three years before getting caught up in it too much.
3. One other twist, as it pertains to participation in the Olympics, and was mentioned by Gord Miller, is that the NHL could go with the under-23 model that soccer uses in the Summer Olympics.
The sticking point, to me, in this plan is that teams aren't going to want to continue playing their schedule without some of these top-calibre players.
Here are some of the best 22-and-under players in the NHL this season.
Can we really expect a team to go forward and play games for a couple of weeks without players of that calibre? Imagine the Colorado Avalanche without Ryan O'Reilly, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog, or the Winnipeg Jets minus Evander Kane, Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba. Those would be devastating to those particular teams.
The other tweak to the option is that NHL teams could decide which players can go which, given previous experience with the World Junior tournament, would pretty much eliminate the participation of NHL players, which begs the question: why impose an age limit at all if NHLers won't be participating?
By most accounts, the players always seem in favour of the experience. Those that are playing enjoy it and those that don't enjoy getting some time off during the season.
As it stands now, NHL owners and executives have taken the position that they aren't so interested in participating in the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea and that could be their legitimate stance, especially after some teams had players suffer injuries while playing in Sochi.
At the same time, it's also the kind of position that a negotiator would take if they wanted to extract more favourable compensation from the International Olympic Committee. There's no leverage if you state that you're unequivocally in love with the current relationship.
Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, who has hardly been regarded as being tight with the players, told the New York Times, "I know the importance of competing in the Olympics to many of our players — they are our partners and if it is important to them it should be important to us."
That doesn't sound like the door on NHL Olympic participation has been shut altogether. At least not yet.
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.