By Dory LeBlanc
On March 5th, Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman granted captain Martin St. Louis his wish: he traded the longtime Bolt to the New York Rangers.
In exchange for the three-time Lady Byng recipient, Tampa Bay received the Rangers' captain, Ryan Callahan and what would become two first round picks.
The catch? Because Callahan only had the remainder of his season on his contract, his future wasn't guaranteed in Tampa.
St. Louis and Callahan could not be more opposite as far as playing styles, with the former an offensive weapon - named a Hart Trophy winner and was awarded the Art Ross Trophy twice - while the latter has a career-high of 54 points in 2011-12; St. Louis only scored fewer than 54 points once (2001-02) in 12 full seasons with Tampa Bay. Callahan is the protoypical grinder- a two-way player who creates opportunities for the other four men on the ice.
The Rangers didn't feel Callahan deserved the reported $6 million/six-year extension he was demanding from New York prior to the trade. The Lightning may not be willing to pay that much either, but according to Callahan's agent Scott Bartlett, the two parties may be closer to making a deal than parting ways.
Very productive talks today between SCG and @TBLightning regarding pending UFA Ryan Callahan. Finding common ground toward new deal— Scott Bartlett (@SCGscott) June 25, 2014
The key will be what other teams are willing to pay the 10-year veteran as other organizations are now allowed to contact unrestricted free agents ahead of the opening of free agency on July 1st.
Callahan hasn't been shy expressing his desire to remain with the team in his 24-game stint with the Lightning, and complimented the club, saying that Tampa Bay was moving in the right direction and he wanted to be a part of it.
The question becomes, how bad does Callahan want to stay and how badly do the Bolts want to keep the veteran leader?
The two sides have less than a week to decide, or another suitor could come along and pay the asking price for Callahan's services. The Lightning would have to go back to the drawing board to pick up veterans through free agency, or rely on their younger roster and within their own system to develop in the minors and call up players as needed.
However, from Smith's earlier article and Bartlett's tweet, it sounds as if Callahan and the Lightning are heading in the same direction.
Photos: Getty Images