The San Jose Sharks stood pat at the NHL trade deadline this year, but reports indicate that they came close to making a significant trade. According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, San Jose had serious talks with the New York Rangers about veteran winger Ryan Callahan. The two clubs had a deal in place before the Tampa Bay Lightning shipped Martin St. Louis to New York in exchange for Callahan and two draft picks.
The Sharks owe Tampa GM Steve Yzerman a pat on the back for that one. He prevented them from making what would have been a severe mistake. The price tag on Callahan would have likely been a pair of high draft picks or a top prospect, which are assets San Jose needs to hold on to. They have one of the league’s shallowest prospect pools and have traded away far too many first- and second-round picks at the deadline in recent years.
The fact that Callahan is set to be a free agent this summer means that the Sharks almost mortgaged their future on a rental. His salary demands are believed to be astronomical (we’re talking upwards of $6 million per year) and the team would have had no cap space to give Callahan that kind of contract.
Even if they did, the forward isn’t worth that type of money. Sure, he’s a heart-and-soul player with grit, leadership and an impeccable work ethic, but Callahan’s contributions are minimal beyond that. His offensive game is limited, he’s injury prone and he’s not skilled enough to be effective in a top-six role on a regular basis. Callahan is a terrific third-liner, but that’s not worth a $6 million cap hit.
It’s not like the Sharks need another two-way forward anyway. Offensive depth isn’t an issue for them, and players like Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture and Tommy Wingels are all excellent defensively and on the penalty kill. Callahan is a solid player and a good captain, but he would have been redundant in San Jose.
The Sharks would have been better off pursuing a top-four defenseman at the trade deadline rather than attempting to waste assets on an unneeded player, but that’s a separate conversation. Luckily, Marty St. Louis’ trade request drew the attention of the Rangers away from San Jose and directed it on the Lightning. Sometimes it’s a move that a team doesn’t make that ends up benefiting them in the long run.