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Martin St. Louis traded to Rangers for Ryan Callahan, picks

It really happened: Martin St. Louis has been traded to the New York Rangers for Ryan Callahan and two draft picks.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Martin St. Louis asked for it, and Steve Yzerman actually went through with it.

In a blockbuster trade that featured two teams swapping their captains, the Tampa Bay Lightning sent St. Louis, the NHL's reigning scoring champion and a former a league MVP, to the New York Rangers in exchange for Ryan Callahan, a first-round draft pick and a second round draft pick, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie. The Rangers will get a draft pick back if the Lightning sign Callahan to a contract extension.

In a trade deadline season that has featured a ton of big names, this is as big as it gets and could significantly alter the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

There is no way to sugarcoat this for Tampa Bay -- it's drawing the short straw here. Even in his late 30s, St. Louis is still one of the best players in the NHL and is signed for one more season at a very reasonable $5 million cap hit. With him, and with Steven Stamkos returning to the lineup, the Lightning probably would have been one of the top three or four contenders in the Eastern Conference.

Without him ... well, they're simply not the same. Still very good, of course, but not as good. And in a weak Eastern Conference where really anybody seems to have a shot, that has to be hard to swallow if you're a Lightning fan.

Callahan is a fine two-way player. He plays in a lot of different situations and plays big minutes and does a lot of little things that don't always show up in the form of goals and points. But he's not Martin St. Louis. He's not going to be a guy that you can lean on to carry a line offensively or can expect to break a game open in the playoffs.

And even worse, he's an unrestricted free agent after this season and based on his contract talks with the Rangers he is not going to be come cheap. Had it not been for the contract situation, the Rangers aren't even trading him at this point.

St. Louis reportedly asked out of Tampa Bay after he was initially left off of the Canadian olympic roster, a team that was assembled by his general manager with the Lightning, Steve Yzerman.

St. Louis eventually made the team as an injury replacement for Stamkos.

Yzerman resigned from his general manager position with Canada following its Gold medal win in Sochi.