In 2004 the New York Rangers selected forward Ryan Callahan with the 127th overall pick. Today, he has grown into a fan favorite in New York and is starting to be recognized around the NHL as an up and coming star.
He started his NHL career during the 2006-07 season but wouldn’t play a full season until the 2008-09 season where he immediately made a huge impact. In 81 games, Callahan scored 40 points, 22 of which were goals. The next year however, would be a down year for Callahan as his point production dropped and so did his goal tally (19).
Fast forward to September 2011, the day that Callahan was named the Rangers 26th captain. This made him the fifth youngest captain in Rangers history, at the age of 26, the first homegrown captain since Brian Leetch, and the first native of New York to become captain of the Rangers.
To some fans, it was a bit of a head scratcher. He only played in 60 games the year before, but did post career highs in goals (23) and points (48). Still many fans and the Rangers organization were thrilled to have him named captain. With the newly acquired “C” on his chest, Ryan Callahan would not disappoint.
This past year he posted new career highs in goals (29), and in points (54). Callahan also did things such as blocking shots, delivering big hits, and getting down in the “dirty” areas of the ice. All of this help lead the Rangers to first place in the Eastern Conference and only two games away from going to the Stanley Cup Finals.
After a successful first year as captain, where would Ryan Callahan rank among the rest of the captains in the NHL? Top 10? Top five? No, top three.
Qualities that make Callahan stand out from the rest of the captains in the NHL are his toughness and willingness to give 110 percent on both the offensive and defensive side of the ice. In addition, he is homegrown talent, which is always a plus in my book. With that said, here is how my top five list shapes up:
5. Alexander Ovechkin- Washington Captials
Even though it was an “off” season (use “off” lightly), Ovechkin is still an elite player in the league. Much like Callahan, he is a huge hitter. However, many coaches seem to struggle to get along with him, which is very bad for team chemistry if the captain and coach are on different wavelengths. Still, you cannot deny the skills that he has.
4. Jarome Iginla- Calgary Flames
Has been the franchise’s captain since the 2003-04 season and shows no sign of slowing down, even though he is 35 years old. Still great on the offensive side of the ice (67 points) and is willing to get tough and drop the gloves every now and again.
3. Daniel Alfredsson- Ottawa Senators
Alfredsson is a fan favorite and a legend in Ottawa. He still has it on the offensive side of the ice even though he is 39 years old. With him returning for a 17th season, Alfredsson is still currently the longest serving captain in the NHL.
2. Ryan Callahan- New York Rangers
For all the reasons stated above.
1. Dustin Brown- Los Angeles Kings
Brown is another one of those hard-hitting, offensively talented, homegrown captains that I love. Most importantly, he helped lead an eight seed all the way to a Stanley Cup victory, something that has never happened in the NHL before. If that does not make him the best captain currently in the NHL, I don’t know what does.
Nick Krapf covers the New York Rangers for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @NickKrapf.