© The Associated Press
Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Martin St. Louis, left, celebrates with center Tyler Johnson after St. Louis scored a goal against the Nashville Predators on Thursday, Feb. 27, in Nashville, Tenn.
TAMPA, Fla. — The first deal of NHL trade deadline day was a big one.
The Tampa Bay Lightning sent forward Martin St. Louis to the New York Rangers for forward Ryan Callahan and two draft picks, a source told The Canadian Press.
St. Louis reportedly asked general manager Steve Yzerman for a trade after Team Canada’s executive director left him off the initial 25-man roster for the Sochi Olympics.
The 38-year-old winger, who was eventually named to the roster as an injury replacement for Steven Stamkos, has a no-trade clause and could control his destination.
That destination is New York, where he’ll replace a pending unrestricted free agent in Callahan on right wing.
In addition to the captains being swapped, reports indicate the Lightning also get a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and a conditional second-round pick in this year’s draft.
The trade deadline is 3 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday afternoon.
St. Louis, a native of Laval, Que., has 29 goals and 32 assists in 62 games this season and is a major reason why the Lightning remain in a playoff spot almost four months after losing Stamkos with a broken right leg. St. Louis won the Art Ross Trophy last year by leading the NHL with 60 points in 48 games.
Callahan’s departure was less stunning only because of the dialogue between agent Stephen Bartlett and the Rangers over the past several weeks. Reports indicated that Callahan, a 28-year-old Rochester, N.Y., native, had been asking for a six- or seven-year deal in excess of US$6 million per season.
St. Louis has one year and $5 million left on his contract, which carries a $5.625-million cap hit for the 2014-’15 season.
There was strife between St. Louis and Yzerman beginning Jan. 7 when he was left off Canada’s 25-man roster again, just as he was in 2010. Four years ago, Yzerman wasn’t his GM in the NHL, and he didn’t expect to be left home again.
The injury to Stamkos appeared to provide Yzerman with a chance to make good with St. Louis, but even after Canada won the gold medal, the veteran winger did not say all was well.
“We had a conversation, that’s between me and Steve,” St. Louis said. “He had a tough job to do, and we’re competitors. I’m glad that it turned out the way it did.”
Few outside the organization expected it to turn out like this, with St. Louis getting his way out of Tampa Bay.
He’s the second straight Lightning captain to go to the Rangers, following Brad Richards, who signed with New York as a free agent in the summer of 2012.