Marty St. Louis just turned 40 last week and has had an impressive career. A handful of his many accomplishments include being a Stanley Cup Champion, an Olympic Gold Medalist, a three-time Lady Byng Memorial Trophy winner, a two-time Art Ross Trophy winner (including being the oldest player to lead the league in scoring), a Hart Memorial Trophy winner, playing over 1000 NHL games, and scoring over 1000 career points in the NHL. He has the resume of a Hall of Famer, especially after going undrafted and having to fight for a roster spot early in his career.
But, with rumors that the New York Rangers aren’t going to resign him, what’s next for St. Louis? Though production significantly decreases for forwards in their late 30’s and early 40’s, St. Louis has been known for his work ethic and dedication to staying in great shape. Statistically he had a down year this past season, only scoring 52 points in 74 regular season games, his lowest point total since 2002. The playoffs were one to forget for St. Louis where he registered only seven points in 19 games and was constantly being juggled between the top and third lines. The chances were there for St. Louis but he couldn’t finish. Because of this, he was benched late in the Eastern Conference Finals playing against his former team, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Just last year, St. Louis was producing at a point per game pace playing along Steven Stamkos. His playing ability couldn’t have deteriorated that much in such a short span, but the decrease is likely more of a confidence issue. In fact, both St. Louis and Stamkos suffered production wise post-St. Louis trade to New York.
Looking at St. Louis’ HERO Chart, it is obvious to tell that he’s a first line player in the offensive zone but is so weak in the defensive zone that he is comparable to a fourth line player. He doesn’t produce a large Corsi For rate per 60 minutes of ice time, but his goals for rate over the same time period is almost three times as high. He is very poor at suppressing shots as both of those metrics are equivalent to a fourth liner. His shot on goal rate per 60 minutes of ice time is well below his point metrics, but that makes sense as he’s always looked to make a pass rather than shooting the puck. I’ll further analyze his possession numbers.
When looking at St. Louis’ advanced statistics, nothing about his play impresses you. He year in and year out has defied analytics as he’s had tremendous success despite weak possession numbers. He may just be Brian Burke’s favorite player because of this. His team often has more shot attempts when he’s off the ice than when he’s on it (he’s posted a negative CF%Rel in 4 of the past 5 seasons).
Looking deeper than just shot attempts, St. Louis’ Scoring Chances For % (SCF%) and High-Danger Scoring Chances For % (HSCF%) are significantly higher than his Corsi For % (CF%). This indicates his team’s shot attempts are of a much higher quality than his opponents when he’s on the ice. Since he’s been producing at a very high level, he is then capitalizing on his attempts.
St. Louis’ recent shooting percentages (with a 3 year moving average) is proof that he has been capitalizing on his chances. While the league average has remained the same, St. Louis’ shooting percentage has jumped up recently. This is likely due to a 16% SH% in the lockout shortened 2012-2013 season but nonetheless, St. Louis was able to put up big numbers to lead the league in scoring (60 points in 48 games).
Factoring in the team’s shooting and save percentages while St. Louis has been on the ice, he’s played very well. It is often talked about that PDO isn’t sustainable and has a lot of luck factoring into a high shooting percentage, but St. Louis was able to maintain a PDO of over 101.7 over the past five seasons (average is 100.0). It is clear a higher level of play, driven by an above average shooting percentage is sustainable for St. Louis.
All signs point to St. Louis having a lot of gas left in his tank at 40 years old and having a lot to offer a potential team. At this point in his NHL career, it is obvious that St. Louis is looking to win the Stanley Cup again so he’ll likely be signing with a contender. I’ll go through a few possible destinations that would be a good fit for St. Louis.
Tampa Bay Lightning
A reunion between Marty St. Louis and the Tampa Bay Lightning would help both sides. St. Louis and Stamkos have played together for over six seasons and their chemistry has been well documented. Stamkos would be a favorite for the Rocket Richards Trophy as the league’s leading scorer with St. Louis beside him. Tampa boosts a very talented and young offensive core so signing St. Louis would require moving a top six forward or two to make a roster spot available for him. General Manager Steve Yzerman would be very hesitant to mortgage young players to gamble on an aging veteran who is coming off of a down year. This is also very unlikely to happen as the relationship between St. Louis and Yzerman is likely still very strained after St. Louis was left off of Canada’s Olympic hockey team.
Signing with the Montreal Canadiens would be a homecoming for the Laval, Quebec native who grew up worshipping the team. He even wears his number 26 after Canadien great Mats Naslund. Montreal is going to need some offensive help as they heavily relied on league MVP Carey Price this season and it is unlikely he will be able to sustain this level of play. St. Louis would fit in well with forwards Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec.
At the 2015 NHL Draft, it was well known and documented that Pittsburgh was in search of another top-6 forward to fill out their depth chart. They weren’t able to accomplish this goal. St. Louis has experience playing with Sidney Crosby from the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, but St. Louis went pointless throughout the tournament. St. Louis and Crosby are similar as they’re both pass-first players so St. Louis likely would be a better fit with Evgeni Malkin on the Penguins second line. Pittsburgh only has $13.7M in cap space this upcoming year with 13 players under an NHL contract so St. Louis would likely have to take a discount or a bonus-heavy contract to play for them.
New York Islanders
Maybe the most intriguing destination for St. Louis is the New York Islanders. After moving to Brooklyn, the Barley Center is only a short five miles away from St. Louis’ old home at the Madison Square Garden and not too far from St. Louis’ house in Greenwich, Connecticut. The Islanders are on the rise and had a very successful season that many people didn’t expect. St. Louis would provide a leadership voice in a young dressing room and would form great chemistry with Islander’s captain and Hart Trophy nominee John Tavares. Looking at similarity scores on War-On-Ice for Tavares’ past season, two of the three top comparables include Vincent Lecavalier (2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons). A little further down the list is Stamkos’ 2012-2013 season. The similarity between Lecavalier and Stamkos’ successful seasons was having St. Louis as a linemate. Tavares playing alongside St. Louis could put up even bigger numbers than he did this season.
It’ll be very interesting to see where St. Louis signs with this off-season. Though his possession numbers aren’t great, he still has a lot to offer on and off the ice.
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