The New York Rangers and Ryan Callahan have had a drama-filled two weeks. Over this time, reports have come from various places that GM Glen Sather has started calling teams about the availability of the Rangers’ captain. Then the reports came out that Callahan was looking for a deal worth more than $6.5 million per year over seven years.
But one option hasn’t been discussed, and that is holding onto Callahan even if he isn’t re-signed before the Olympic roster freeze.
The Rangers are undoubtedly playing their best hockey of the season. Alain Vigneault‘s system is finally clear to all the players and everyone is contributing. The team is loose and having fun. You could even make the argument that the Rangers are the third-best team in the Eastern Conference right now. So why break them up?
Callahan is clearly the heart and soul of the Rangers. He is a fan favorite and a player that every team would love to have. Is he worth $6.5 million? Probably not. Is he a valuable member of this team? A team that is playing loose and with energy every night? Without a doubt.
The Rangers aren’t going to get a lot back for Callahan. If he is traded, he is nothing more than a rental to the team that gets him. If Callahan hits free agency, the Buffalo Sabres would be the clear favorite to obtain his services. He is from Rochester and would be a great fit for a team that is trying to rebuild.
The St. Louis Blues have been one of the rumored teams that would be interested in Callahan. The return would be winger Chris Stewart, who is a player just like Callahan, and possibly a prospect or pick.
Some people were speculating that the Rangers would want Stewart in order to lure Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny to New York. Stewart and Statsny were linemates and both had great success when they were playing together. Statsny would want a big deal, and that would only be possible if Brad Richards was bought out.
Stewart would be a solid fit, but he does not bring the intangibles that Callahan can. People can downplay the aspect of leadership but last time I checked, guys like Callahan play vital roles in the playoffs. Remember how big Dustin Brown was when the Los Angeles Kings won their Stanley Cup?
With the value they would get in return being so low, why trade him. The team is playing well and is happy. If they face the clear favorites in the east, the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins, you still have that Henrik Lundqvist guy who can steal a game or two. It is unlikely the Rangers would be able to win a series, but you never know.
Right now, Callahan is a part of a team that is playing good hockey. That is more valuable then a prospect and a pick. Sather made it clear when he fired John Tortorella that this team is expected to make a run to the Conference Finals or Stanley Cup finals. Last time I checked, they blew up a team that had just made it to the Conference Finals and then regressed. Why take the risk of once again breaking up a team that is playing well?
Callahan can play and he is going to bring it night in and night out. Add to that the fact that the Rangers are playing great hockey, and it makes total sense for the Rangers to hold on to their captain right now.