‘No doubt’ St. Louis wants to play next year, retire a Ranger

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Though Martin St. Louis and the New York Rangers have decided to put off contract talks ’til the offseason, St. Louis has — very publicly — let his position be known.

“There’s no doubt that I want to play next year. Period,” St. Louis said, per the New York Post. “And for sure, yes, I want to play here. I want to finish my career as a Ranger.

“There’s no doubt about that either.”

St. Louis, who turns 40 in June, is in the last year of a deal that pays $5.65M annually. He’s had a bit of a down season offensively, but still racked up 21 goals and 50 points in 73 games.

On the surface, his age and declining production point towards a pay cut. The Rangers dropped some significant coin on a couple of pending free agents already this season — $18 million for Mats Zuccarello, $34.2 million for Marc Staal — and it remains to be seen where St. Louis falls on this summer’s priority chart, given GM Glen Sather needs to orchestrate new deals for the likes of Derek Stepan, J.T. Miller, Carl Hagelin and Jesper Fast.

It’s also likely that St. Louis’ on-ice role would be reduced as well. If this season has shown anything, it’s that the Rangers’ future has arrived, especially at forward — Fast has performed well in his first full NHL season, Miller looks like he’s figured things out, rookie Kevin Hayes has enjoyed a solid freshman campaign and Chris Kreider is a blossoming power forward.

What do all those guys have in common?

None have turned 24 yet.

Of course, this might not matter. St. Louis is completely invested in being a Ranger, meaning he may be more than willing to accept reductions in both salary and ice time to stick on Broadway. That would be a major boon for Sather, who’s already got a tricky cap situation on his hands — one that could be further compounded if the ceiling’s only raised a minimal amount.