The Tampa Bay Lightning had a tough end to their 2013-14 season after they were swept in the first round of the playoffs. Despite getting swept, the team was a playoff surprise and has a lot of things to look forward to in the coming years.
To help brighten those years to come, the Lightning made a very smart move on Wednesday when they re-signed forward Ryan Callahan to a new six-year contract. Callahan was traded to Tampa from the New York Rangers last season and has fit in nicely since becoming a Bolt.
The re-signing of Callahan is smart by Tampa’s front office for various reasons. While Callahan doesn’t exactly set the world on fire when it comes to scoring a lot of points, his value goes deeper than stat sheets. Simply speaking, Callahan plays the game the way it’s meant to be played. He never quits on a play, he stands up for his teammates and gives up his body to block shots. He’s not an offensive specialist, but still has skill and potential to score some goals.
Now that Callahan will get the chance to play his first full season in Tampa, he will most likely grow into a leadership role on a very young Lighting team. Callahan will be a great player to have around in terms of setting a good example for the young guys and helping them progress.
Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson finished second and third respectfully in voting for the Calder Trophy, given to the rookie of the year. All of Tampa Bay’s top 11 scorers from last season are under the age of 30 (with the exception of Martin St. Louis who was sent to New York in the Callahan trade). Captain Steven Stamkos at age 23 is already one of the best players in the league and probably a top-three scorer. Goalie Ben Bishop, 27-years-old, came out of nowhere last season and got nominated as a Vezina Trophy finalist.
Basically, the point is that there’s a litter of young talent on the Lighting, and Callahan’s a good veteran player to compliment them. Callahan’s also a proven leader, as he was New York’s captain until he was traded.
Some might say that Tampa vastly overpaid for Callahan’s services, but he’ll be worth more than people think in a Lightning uniform. He won’t be taking the “C” away from Stamkos, but he’ll become a leader on the ice and in the locker room. Tampa Bay made the right choice re-signing him regardless of the money they spent.