St. Louis for Sochi?
Veteran forward Martin St. Louis played in his 1,000th NHL game on Tuesday, when the Lightning were beaten 5-2 by the Kings. And the Bolts Captain seems to have lost none of his passion for the sport in that time and is still playing at an elite level, even at 38-years old.
Such has been the quality of St. Louis’s play over the past year, the question has to be asked – should he be on the plane to Sochi?
The Quebec native became the oldest player to win the Art Ross Trophy last season, the second of his career, when he posted 60 points (17+43) in 48 games. Despite Tampa missing the post season, he was also a major contender for the Hart Trophy and has set off at a shade under a point per game pace this season – scoring 8 goals and 21 points in the Bolts first 22 games.
St. Louis represented Canada at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, and was a reserve in 2010. He has also represented his country at the 2004 World Cup and has two World Championship silver medals. With the 2014 games being held in Russia, on Olympic size ice pads, the speedy veteran surely offers the kind of game that puts him in the frame for selection?
St. Louis is a highly skilled offensive player with great wheels; attributes which are certainly of benefit on the larger ice surfaces Sochi will offer. He is also an experienced hand capable of playing alongside other elite talent.
Team Canada hasn’t shied away from adding a veteran presence to its teams in the past, with Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger playing major roles in their 2010 success.
With both retired (or effectively retired in Pronger’s case), there is an opening for a veteran hand on the team.
On the other hand, Canada has an embarrassment of riches at forward and there are numerous others vying for a spot. Whilst players like Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews are a lock for selection, there could be as many as two dozen players competing for just a handful of places on the team.
Despite his recent scoring feats, St. Louis could still be considered to be too far down the depth chart to warrant a place.
Perhaps the ultimate factor in this is how well Steven Stamkos recovers from his broken tibia. The two have undeniable chemistry which has powered the Bolts for the past few seasons, and if Stamkos is fit to play the idea that Canada takes both Lightning men is not inconceivable – the idea of, say, St. Louis, Stamkos and Nash must be an appealing one?
Mike Babcock has already said they will keep Stamkos involved in the squad and assess whether he will be fit for Sochi nearer the time. If the young superstar does recover; the combination of chemistry and ability might just see St. Louis get one more shot at Olympic glory.