The slight overvaluing of Marty St. Louis by the Tampa media

Yesterday, we discussed the availability of Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the context of a rumor posted by Dave Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, which had the diminutive winger potentially heading to the Pittsburgh Penguins for defenseman Ryan Whitney.

The general consensus we received was that a soon-to-be-34-year-old winger wasn't worth a 26-year-old defenseman who can run the power play; even if St. Louis is the prototypical winger for a center like Sidney Crosby, and even if Whitney has been "teh suck" for the Pens since returning from injury.

The chatter about this prospective deal grew so loud that both of the Lightning's newspaper beat writers addressed it on their respective blogs.

You know the old line about beauty being in the eye of the beholder? Well, Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune and Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times must have been wearing their beer goggles while typing up their posts on St. Louis ... who is apparently worth Whitney, Jordan Staal and a few other enticements from the Penguins.

From Erlendsson:

Marty would probably be a good fit with Crosby because he works hard every shift, can chase down pucks and works well in the corners. The name mentioned as coming back is defenseman Ryan Whitney. But here's the thing, if the Lightning think Whitney is the No. 1 defenseman they need, it's just not the case.

Now, if the deal was Whitney and Jordan Staal, maybe you think about it from the Lightning's perspective. Otherwise, you don't trade the heart and soul of this team. Not for the production St. Louis provides for this team. Not for what he means to the franchise. And certainly for not what he still brings at a friendly cap number (relatively speaking) of $5.25 million and the actual salary he will make, $4 million next

From Cristodero:

I guess, even if the Lightning was open to trading St. Louis, it would have to weigh whether the Laval, Quebec, native, next season, at 34, will be as valuable on the ice. Or, is it better to get whatever it can for him while his value is still so high. One thing is certain, if St. Louis is dealt by the March 4 trade deadline, it better be a win for Tampa Bay. After Vinny Lecavalier, St. Louis is the fans' favorite.

Someone floated the name of defenseman Ryan Whitney and a prospect as part of the rumor. Not nearly enough. Maybe Whitney and center Jordan Staal and some prospects; something to make sure the fans think the team got value back. Because, again, this team is going to have to sell tickets for next season, and with likely a second straight season without the playoffs, it needs something with which to market.

Look, these guys see St. Louis as often as anyone. He's incredibly popular, a locker-room leader, a Stanley Cup championship team alumnus and can still light up the scoreboard as he did in last night's 6-4 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs -- a four-point night skating with Vincent Lecavalier and Ryan Malone. If the Bolts are indeed pointed in the right direction, with Oren Koules and Len Barrie deferring hockey decisions to others, the one would imaging St. Louis would be part of that turnaround until his contract is up in 2012.

The point being that two beat writers for the team clearly value St. Louis in way many non-Bolts fans do not. To the point where Whitney and Staal are a starting point for a trade, rather than the maximum value Tampa could ever dream of getting.

Is he worth that package? Of course not. Whitney and Staal and a few picks probably gets you, say, Ilya Kovalchuk, who St. Louis is certainly not.

Would St. Louis cost more than just Whitney? Tony from Penguins blog The Confluence believes so:

I realize Tampa's not going to make that deal straight up, I mean their scouts aren't blind.  But unless Tampa Bay is demanding a high draft pick or a top prospect along with Whitney, meaning a mid-level prospect(s) and/ or picks, I'd make that deal every day and twice on Sundays.

But Whitney and Staal? Hell, just toss in Malkin and Fleury for good measure, and hope that Tampa has the comportment to send back Steve Eminger as a token of gratitude ...

There have been few hints from St. Louis that he wants to waive his no-movement clause and leave Tampa. He's worked hard, been a vocal leader and appears willing to see this through. That, combined with the perceived asking price, is probably enough to take him off the block at the deadline.

Not to say the Bolts won't be active at the deadline. Erlendsson offers two potential moves:

The first involves the San Jose Sharks, who have been scouting the Lightning somewhat in the past couple of games. John Ferguson Jr., was in Pittsburgh last week watching the game and then showed up in Tampa for Tuesday's game against Atlanta. He is not here tonight, nor is any member of the Sharks scouting staff, but word is that San Jose is looking at veteran center Jeff Halpern. ...

... Another rumor that just hit the wire involves the Columbus Blue Jackets, Word is that Tampa has been scouting Columbus recently while the Blue Jackets have a scout in the building tonight. The supposed interest on Columbus' part is Vinny Prospal. This one makes a little bit of sense to me as Prospal has been caught in his every-other-year lack of production this season and his contract is pretty hefty. Perhaps that's why Prospal has played at center tonight?

Vinny Prospal? He had 14 points in 18 games for the Philadelphia Flyers last year, but typically plays in a different gear when he's in Tampa. Not the worst pick-up for the Jackets if the price is right, but not a cure-all at center, either. It would be interesting to see if the BJs can expand a deal to include some help on the blueline.

Although based on the Tampa media's recent appraisals, it'll probably cost Nash, Mason and Hitchcock's deep fryer.

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