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NHL New York Rangers

What Should the New York Rangers Do With Captain Ryan Callahan?

Adam Hunger – USA TODAY Sports

In one of the most complicated parts of the New York Rangers’ season as an entire franchise, GM Glen Sather is faced with a very difficult decision, and the fans barely know the half of it.

While it has been publicly announced that the Rangers are considering trading captain Ryan Callahan in the near future because of his “ridiculous” contract demands, fans are left wondering why the organization would want to deal one of their most valuable players, and why their beloved captain would allow such a thing to happen.

What the fans do not necessarily know is that most likely this is just a battle of chicken on both sides, each trying to outlast the other, hoping that their opponent cracks before they do. While Callahan has been reported to be asking for a salary in the range of $6 million a year, Sather would like to have that closer to $5 million or less a year as the Rangers have quite a few players with expiring contracts this year.

However this plays out, expect Callahan to come out with a slight advantage when it is all said and done, for now he has a slight upper hand. While there are quite a few notable players that will be available through free agency this offseason, none match the play and value of Ryan Callahan, something that gives Callahan a slight edge. Callahan’s unique style of play for his size and skill set is something that all teams would place enormous value on.

Callahan cannot only score goals and assist teammates, but he is also always seen fighting in the trenches for pucks, and grinding it out in the corners with bigger players. The combination of physicality and skill that Callahan possesses makes him a great player for the Rangers to use to set up some of their scorers, as well as get goals from Callahan himself. However, with Callahan’s small size (5-foot-11, 190 pounds), his grinder style of play takes a severe toll on his body, leading to the injury proneness that we have seen in Callahan in recent years.

Is this the beginning of the end for Callahan? Can a change of scenery (and style) help Callahan to be even better? Can the Rangers survive without Callahan? All these questions will only tell with time, but for now we can make our best guess.

As for whether or not the Rangers can survive without Callahan, just take a look at their record when Callahan is not playing. The Rangers are 9-9-1 without Callahan in the lineup this season, as opposed to 22-14-2 with Callahan. Say whatever you want, it is clear that at least something is different when Callahan is in the lineup, which stands to reason as Callahan is the captain and apparent leader of this team. He has the ability to inspire teammates’ play and drive the entire team to play their best, something that goes hand in hand with winning.

While Sather might see Callahan as a declining player in the ever evolving NHL, at this point his hands might be tied as to what to do. The Rangers have been enjoying a successful season thus far and Callahan has been right in the middle of it. And after his performance against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, scoring two goals and adding a late assist as well, Sather might just be stuck even more.

At this point, Sather has publicly said that he will deal with the Callahan situation before the Olympic break, which happens to be coming this week. Sather cannot risk the chemistry and success of his team at this point in the season by trading the team’s leader and heart and soul. However, on the other hand, the Rangers can possibly lose Callahan and get nothing in return in the offseason if Callahan decides to sign with a different team.

The best option for all involved at this point is to either resign Callahan now — if Sather really intends to stick to his deadline of the Olympic break to resolve the Callahan question mark — or wait it out and reassess the situation after the Olympic break on the NHL Trade Deadline. The only problem with the latter is that Callahan risks injury in Sochi playing for Team USA.

At this point, it should not surprise anyone if we hear in the news this week that Sather and Callahan have come to terms on a contract deal.