Well, the Sochi Olympics are officially behind us, and players are returning to their respective clubs to prepare for the NHL season to resume. But before anyone can focus on a playoff push, we have to get through the craziness that is the trade deadline. March 5 is approaching quickly, and we’re already hearing some bombshell rumors. One of them, though, just plain doesn’t make sense for one of the clubs involved.
Word around the rumor mill is the New York Rangers are looking at various trade propositions for their captain Ryan Callahan. He’s one of the biggest names in the trade rumor mill, as his contract negotiations with the Rangers front office haven’t yielded anything productive. One possible deal they may try to execute is a one-for-one swap that would send Callahan to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Martin St. Louis.
This move, for a couple obvious reasons, is quite a head-scratcher from the Lightning’s perspective.
First of all, let’s look at the obvious red flag, which would be individual statistics. Callahan currently has 11 goals and 24 points overall. Respectable numbers, sure, until you compare them to St. Louis’ this year. The Lightning captain is having a stellar year, with 25 goals and 31 assists, a point total that is more than double what Callahan is putting up. If we’re going by a player comparison, the only stat Callahan appears to win is age (at 38 years old, St. Louis is ten years the elder).
Let’s go beyond that. Tampa is currently sitting at third place in the Eastern Conference, and barring a catastrophic collapse – which is tough to foresee since Steven Stamkos is due to return from injury soon – they’ll be in the postseason. Along with the play of goalie Ben Bishop, St. Louis is a big reason why the Lightning are contending.
Meanwhile, the Rangers are hanging on to a playoff spot, but not by much. With the loss of Mats Zuccarello, they might see their grip on a postseason berth loosen soon. So yes, an offensive boost that would come from acquiring St. Louis would be huge for the team in terms of helping them lock up a playoff berth.
But why on Earth would Tampa give up their captain? Especially for what would very likely be a rental of Callahan?
St. Louis is under contract until the end of next season, so if the Lightning were attempting to shed salary, then sure, trade for an expiring contract in Callahan. But you have to believe the team would look at any and all routes they could take to clear up cap space without having to deal a player who’s been with the team since 2000. Especially when said player’s contributions are more than keeping the team afloat despite losing the incredibly talented Stamkos.
Maybe there’s something we aren’t seeing behind the scenes that would make a rumor like this surface. Or maybe Rangers GM Glen Sather is just testing every scenario he can out of curiosity. Either way, if a St. Louis-for-Callahan trade were to take place, it’d be an incredibly one-sided deal for the Rangers. They would avoid losing Callahan for nothing as a free agent, while at the same time getting the talented St. Louis for this season and next at a smaller cap hit than what Callahan is asking for.
With the craziness of trade season in full swing, expect to hear plenty of insane rumors surface in the next few days. As far as this one goes, I would say the odds of it going through are slim to none. If it did go down, it would confuse many of the Lightning faithful.