As was first reported by Larry Brooks of the New York Post, it is highly unlikely that Martin St. Louis will re-sign with the New York Rangers for the 2015-16 season. Since St. Louis does not want to uproot his family from their current living situation, is it possible that he ends up in a New Jersey Devils uniform for the upcoming season?
St. Louis had a good season for the Rangers in 2014-15, scoring 21 goals along with 31 assists for 52 points in 74 games. He would be a nice addition for a Devils team looking to add scoring this offseason. Even though St. Louis will be 40 by the time the 2015-16 season rolls around, his point production hasn’t had a dramatic drop off yet, but there are some reasons to be concerned going forward.
There was good and bad with St. Louis in the 2014-15 season. We’ll start off with the good stuff. St. Louis did good things offensively for the Rangers, as his point totals reflect. His goals for per 60 while on the ice was a 2.92 at 5v5, up from 2.85 in 2013-14, and he accounted for 56.8% of the Rangers goals scored when he was on the ice. He also converted on a little bit over 14% of his shots during the regular season and was still a productive asset on the powerplay, where he scored 5 goals and added 7 assists while New York was up a man. Not bad for a player who is pushing 40.
While that is all good and well, this is where the concern comes in for St. Louis. Although his goal metrics were fairly impressive, he was not a good possession player for the Rangers. In fact, he was one of New York’s worst possession players. For the season, St. Louis was just a 47.5% possession player at 5v5. Usually good things don’t happen when you’re that low in possession. Ideally, you’d like to be in the 50% range, but St. Louis wasn’t even close to that.
You could look at St. Louis’ possession numbers optimistically or pessimistically. The pessimist would say at some point with possession numbers like that, St. Louis will begin to regress and his point totals will drop off dramatically. It’s possible we saw a bit of that in the playoffs, where St. Louis scored just 1 goal in 19 games and struggled offensively for a majority of the time he was on the ice. And especially with his age, it’s bound to catch up with him. On the other hand, the optimist would say that he has been above 50% three times in his career (data begins in 2007-08 season). And even when he had been as low as 47.1% in 2011-12, he still managed to score 74 points in 77 games. Obviously, he was a bit younger then, but you could make an argument that St. Louis could still be successful with mediocre possession numbers because he’s done so in the past.
St. Louis has never been a dominant possession player as, say, Jaromir Jagr. Without having seen too much of St. Louis play, it’s hard for me to say exactly why he is a productive player with poor possession numbers. One reason could very well be that he is a great skater, able to create offense for himself because of his skating ability, and it’s possible that this hasn’t always meant generating shot attempts, which would explain his poor possession numbers.
Even though St. Louis’ possession numbers are a bit concerning, I do still like the idea of bringing him in on a one year deal for a couple reasons. For one, there isn’t too much of a risk bringing him in for one year. Ray Shero has mentioned that the Devils need to be smart about spending their money this offseason because it will affect what happens to the team 3-4 years down the road. And he’s right. However, bringing St. Louis in on a one year deal won’t affect the team’s cap situation in the long term.
Secondly, if the Devils happen to be a contender next season and St. Louis continues to thrive and be a 50-60 point player, he’ll be a valuable asset for them down the stretch. If the Devils aren’t contenders next season and St. Louis continues to produce offensively at the rate he did this past season, the Devils can trade him to a contender at next season’s trade deadline and most likely get some pretty good returns for him. It’s all the more reason why Shero should take the chance on St. Louis and let him wear the red and black. Even if it is for only one season.