Future in Tampa Bay uncertain for St. Louis

2250239105_5b49fd7a0bThe Tampa Bay Lightning are looking to rebuild. Again. But this time they might have to do so without long-time Lightning right-wing Martin St. Louis who has stated that he wants to play for a contender instead of going through the rebuilding process once again.

“I want to be on a winning team,” St. Louis told the St. Petersburg Times. “It’s three years of this and (we’re going) back to square one, so I want to be on a winning team. That’s the biggest thing. I’m not getting any younger. We’ll see how it all shakes out this summer.”

Immediately after the regular season ended, the new owner of the Lightning, Jeff Vinik, relieved general manager Brian Lawton and head coach Rick Tocchet of their duties.

“My vision of being world class here necessitated taking this action and really having a fresh start on the hockey side of things,” said Vinik of his decision to fire Tocchet and Lawton.

While replacements are yet to be named for the vacant positions, a list of roughly ten names are rumored to be possible replacements as the new GM for the Lightning. However, without a new GM or head coach in place, it’s difficult for players to assess the state of the team and where the team will be headed in the future. Certainly a new GM might come in and decide to clean house and rebuild from the ground up – something that St. Louis isn’t willing to take part in again.

Despite being a few months away from his 35th birthday, St. Louis still appears to be in the prime of his career. In fact, last season St. Louis was fifth in the league in assists with 65, and sixth in the league in total points with an impressive 94. St. Louis has accumulated 80 or more points in each of his last four seasons and twice scored over 90 points in that same span. His incredibly consistent play has made him one of the most valuable assets for the Lightning in recent years.

St. Louis is signed through next season for a cap hit of $5.25 million and has a no-trade clause on his current contract, which means that St. Louis would need to waive his clause in order to be traded. Depending on the direction that the new GM decides to take, it’s entirely possible that St. Louis delivers a list of acceptable destinations that he will waive his clause for – much like Dany Heatley did for the Ottawa Senators last summer before they shipped him to the San Jose Sharks. With his impressive numbers, St. Louis could certainly be a hot commodity for any contender.

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