As much as New York Rangers fans might not want to face the future without their beloved captain Ryan Callahan, trading away Callahan might be the best move for everyone involved.
While arguably no one can replace Callahan to the extent that he contributes to the team, finding a suitable replacement that can provide some of the things that Callahan did, and then provide some things that Callahan did not will prove more valuable to the team than renewing Callahan’s sizable contract demands.
It is obvious that Callahan is injury prone, and with his grinder style of play, this will only get worse with time. Spending $5 or 6 million on Callahan might pay off next season, maybe even the season after that; but beyond 2016, Callahan will be almost worthless, and his contract will be eating up valuable cap space that the Rangers could use to improve.
While a lot of the media has previously reported rumors of the team trading Callahan for Chris Stewart of the St. Louis Blues, or Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning — both of which have been denied by both Callahan and Rangers GM Glen Sather – there are other players in the league up for grabs at the trade deadline.
One player that the Rangers should consider trading Callahan for is Colorado Avalanche forward Paul Stastny. A recent teammate with Callahan on Team USA in Sochi, Stastny has proved that he has what it takes to be a big name player, and someone that can help his team at both ends of the ice.
Stastny is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, on a team so riddled with talent and youth they most likely do not have long term plans for him in Colorado.
Stastny is a highly underrated playmaker with elite defensive play, something that can help the Rangers immensely. He is someone very familiar with the toughest even-strength situations, as he usually takes on the top opponents with resounding success.
Despite these tough defensive playing conditions, Stastny knows how to get the puck on his stick, and once he has it, knows just what to do with it. Even though he is mostly used as a defensive specialist to neutralize the star forwards of his opposition, he has consistently stayed close to the 20 goal, 60 point level, and has the potential for so much more on a team that has other defensive forwards, like the Rangers.
While this might not be the most obvious trade move for the Rangers, it is by far the best. The 28-year-old Stastny is just hitting his prime, and with the right combination of line mates, potentially Chris Kreider or Brad Richards, Stastny could find that he is even better than everyone thinks, becoming a consistent 30-40 goals a season goal scorer, and someone who gets near 80 points a season as well.
One of the most attractive facts for both sides on this potential deal is the fact that Colorado has an abundance of salary cap space that can easily accommodate Callahan’s salary. Additionally, Callahan will fit well with the Colorado style of play that head coach Patrick Roy has created there.
If Sather knows what he is doing, he has already been reaching out to Colorado GM Greg Sherman about getting a deal done. If Sather goes without moving Callahan and lets him leave during free agency with nothing to show for it but some salary cap space, then maybe it is time for Sather to make way for a new Rangers GM.