Rangers Screwed Up Big With Callahan
From the drawn out contract negotiations to yesterday’s trade to Tampa, everything about the New York Rangers dealings with former Captain Ryan Callahan has turned ugly for the Blueshirts.
The Team USA forward was sent to the Lightning along with the Rangers first round pick at the 2015 NHL entry draft and a conditional second round pick in 2014 for veteran forward Martin St Louis. Whilst there is little doubt St Louis offers an offensive boost for a club far from guaranteed a play-off spot, that is a bountiful haul to send Tampa’s way. And it makes the whole thing even more farcical.
St Louis’s trade request was essentially a request to be traded to the Rangers, the same as it was in 2009. It left a sour taste in many mouths given the timing and circumstance of the request, and left Steve Yzerman with an apparently weak hand when it came to negotiating with Glenn Sather – because it’s pretty difficult to drive a hard bargain when you only have one dance partner.
But the former Red Wings superstar got a strong two way player, even as a rental, a first round puck at the deep 2015 draft and a pick at this years draft; with the kicker being that if the Rangers make the Conference finals (which they legitimately could if they make the post season) then that second round pick becomes a first…
Yzerman dealt with a tricky situation (lose one of your best two players or park an enormous elephant in the Tampa room) and made out like a bandit.
On a day when the Islanders could only get a prospect and a conditional second round pick for Thomas Vanek, and former Ranger Marian Gaborik moved for what amounts to a depth player and picks, Yzerman boosted the Bolts chances in both the short and long term.
How on Earth Glenn Sather got talked in to this deal, I do not know. Either Yzerman is a brilliant negotiator, or Sather is a poor one – or perhaps Sather so intensely believes the Rangers are close to a Cup he was willing to roll a hard six on St Louis.
In doing so however, he may have sacrificed more than just some picks (likely to be in the twenties come draft day).
Callahan was the Rangers Captain. Whilst the deal represents the first Captain for Captain trade in NHL history (certainly in terms of the ‘modern era’), Tampa has some notable candidates to take over the ‘C’. The Rangers? Well, they have candidates in the form of Dan Giradi, Rick Nash and even Derek Stepan. But Callahan was a HUGE personality on that team. It was his room. Once he ‘turned’ on former Coach John Tortorella, the room did and it was only a matter of time before the forthright bench boss was fired.
Sather has not only traded his teams unquestioned leader, he’s created a power vacuum in the room.
It may be something that resolves itself very easily, with someone like Nash taking the bull by the horns and getting this team back on track. But the risk that it creates an internal power struggle at a key point in the season has to worry Rangers fans.
Whilst many considered Callahan’s original demands ‘too high’, suggestions his asking price came down as the deadline approached, and that the two sides were as little as $250k apart by the time he was traded, make you wonder what went through Sather’s mind as he pulled the trigger to send the 28-year old to the sunshine state.
Personally I was always of the belief they would get a deal done – that the Rangers would retain their Captain, largely because of what he brought in that role. Some sneer at intangibles like ‘heart’ and ‘sand paper’, and they are admittedly odd phrases to use when evaluating a players worth, but Callahan did bring that certain something to the table as a player and as a leader. That ‘something’ can be hard to replace, and in some cases is hard to understand until you’ve seen it first hand.
Whilst Tampa have suggested Callahan will be little more than a play-off rental, there is nothing to say Yzerman does not at least have a phone call with Callahan’s people. With lower house prices, lower taxes and a sunnier climate, there are notable benefits to Callahan staying with the Lightning. He’d also get to play with one of the games truly elite talents in Steven Stamkos – which has to be a pretty nice selling point as well.
With the cap going up and St Louis’s salary off the books, it is not inconceivable to consider an agreement could be reached. Much now rests with the Rochester native. But whether Callahan re-signs with Tampa, or tests the waters in July, this one will come back to haunt the Rangers for years to come.