Time Runs Out on Ryan Callahan; St.Louis Now A Blueshirt
As the weeks turned to days, the days turned to hours and the hours to minutes, it became abundantly clear that something had to give between the New York Rangers and Ryan Callahan.
And shortly before noon today, all the sand in the hourglass, and perhaps the patience of Glen Sather, had run out.
Despite negotiations going until the wee hours of the morning on March 5th, Sather pulled the trigger on a trade sending Callahan to the Tampa Bay Lightning, a blockbuster swap that will dramatically change the landscape of the Eastern Conference with just weeks remaining in the regular season.
Along with Callahan, Tampa will also receive the Rangers 2nd round pick in this years draft, and a 1st round pick in 2015. The 2nd round pick is conditional, if the Rangers reach the conference finals this year, it becomes a 1st.
In exchange, Tampa Bay sends long time captain Martin St.Louis to the Rangers. St.Louis, the reigning Art Ross Trophy winner, had long said the Rangers were his preferred destination, which became public knowledge after his falling out with Tampa General Manager Steve Yzerman.
In the unlikely event that Callahan re-signs with Tampa, the Rangers would also receive the Lightning’s 2nd round pick in 2015. Tampa almost definitely will not be matching Callahan’s latest contract demands, said to be six years at $6.5 million AAV.
This is a lot to digest, and I understand it may be traumatic for some, so lets break things down from a Rangers perspective. After all, change can be a good thing!
Make no mistake about it, this is a “win now” move for the Rangers. St.Louis offers the Rangers instant offensive credibility on a team that sorely needed it. His 61 total points are good for 8th overall in the entire NHL, and his 29 goals have him tied for 5th among all players. To put things in perspective, he’s 10 goals ahead of the Rangers (former) leading goal scorer Rick Nash, who’s totaled 19 goals on the year.
St.Louis will rejoin former teammate Brad Richards on the Rangers second line along with Carl Hagelin, the two will look to rekindle some of the magic that brought Tampa a Stanley Cup in 2004. St.Louis also provides the “finisher” head coach Alain Vigneault so sorely needed.
Contractually, this deal is a home run for the Rangers. St.Louis is signed through the 2014-2015 season and carries a modest cap hit of $5.625 million per year. New York will almost assuredly get two good post-seasons out of MSL before his contract is up and should be in a good position to make a run at the Stanley Cup within those two years.
Had the Rangers signed Callahan to the aforementioned six-year deal, they’d be stuck with an injury prone player on the wrong side of 30, and a colossal cap hit of $6.5 million per year. Combine those factors along with a rumored no-move clause and you’ve got Wade Redden Redux on your hands, something I doubt any member of this fan base wants to relive. To be clear, I’m certainly not comparing Callahan to Wade Redden, but the proposed deal was one that would have set the franchise back a good deal.
As far as the draft picks are concerned, you almost always make the deal for an established player rather than rolling the dice in the draft, especially where the Rangers will be projected to be picking. And unless the Rangers would be drafting at the top in 2015, they wouldn’t be in the mix for Connor McDavid. A 1st and 2nd are a steep price to pay to be sure, but good players fetch good returns, and this was a win for the Rangers in that regard.
Ryan Callahan will always be remembered as a player that gave 110%, each and every single time he stepped onto the ice wearing a New York Rangers sweater. He was the consummate teammate, a professional in every sense of the word. His undying passion for his team, as well as his incredible physical sacrifice is not easily replaceable. But at the end of the day, this is a business. And as much as it may hurt now the focus remains the same: bringing a Stanley Cup back to New York.