As much as New York Rangers fans might cringe at the thought of losing their captain Ryan Callahan, this move might make the most sense if the Rangers are actually going to trade Callahan.
While arguably no one can replace Callahan to the extent that he contributes to the team, St. Louis might be a suitable replacement that can provide some of the things that Callahan did, and then provide some things that Callahan did not.
While the obvious downside to trading for St. Louis is his age, it provides the Rangers an opportunity to then go ahead and use the salary cap space freed up from the trade to go after free agents in the offseason.
St. Louis is currently making $6.5 million this year, and is slated to make $5 million next season, a substantial increase in salary from Callahan’s $4.85 million contract this season. However, the problem with Callahan is the fact that his contract is up at the end of this season. With that being said, Callahan was looking to re-sign with the Rangers in the area comparable to St. Louis, only slightly higher than St. Louis’ contract for next season.
If St. Louis is going to cost about the same as resigning Callahan, then why would the Rangers opt to trade away their 28-year-old captain for the 38-year-old St. Louis? I’ll tell you why, because the Rangers are looking out for their future beyond this season and next season.
It is obvious that Callahan is injury prone, and with the style of play that he employs, this will only get worse with time. Spending $5-6 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.
With St. Louis, the Rangers will get the same level of leadership and dedication that Callahan afforded them at the same price. Yes, you won’t see St. Louis grinding it out in the corners and throwing big hits like Callahan would, but you will see St. Louis scoring more goals and setting up teammates with assists, something the Rangers could really use, especially right now with top scorer Mats Zuccarello injured.
At the end of St. Louis’ current contract he will most likely either retire, or look for a short term one-year contract at a much lower price, as he will be 40 when that happens. At that point the Rangers will free up more than $5 million in cap space, money they can use to sign someone like David Krejci or Bobby Ryan, who will both be unrestricted free agents in 2015.
If the Rangers really are set on trading away Callahan, then trading for St. Louis is the best deal for them. St. Louis will provide the Rangers with the offense that they need, as well as fill the void of leadership and hard work that trading Callahan would leave.
It’s a win-win for everyone involved.