When the clock strikes 3pm on Wednesday, March 5th signaling the time which any player acquired by a team can be eligible to participate in the postseason (also known as the trade deadline), it is all but certain Ryan Callahan will still be Captain of the New York Rangers Hockey Club. However, what happens between March 5th and July 1st is still anyone’s guess.
Today, we’re going to take a look at a few different scenarios around what the Rangers might look like with and without our Captain heading into next year, and what the cost implications might be. Realistically, barring a trade (which is unlikely to begin with), there are only two scenarios for the Rangers: They re-sign Cally, or they do not re-sign Cally.
Rangers re-sign Ryan Callahan
What can I say about Ryan Callahan that hasn’t already been said a million times on Al Gore’s interweb?
Twenty+ goal scorers who can play in all three zones and be trusted in every game situation are not easy to find. Very few guys in this league bring a 100% effort every night and can be good on both sides of the puck. Callahan is one of those guys and he’s an important ingredient to any club with Stanley Cup aspirations.
The question becomes not about his importance, but his value in a cap world, and it’s always hard to put a dollar sign on intangible qualities. Everyone weights that stuff differently. Still, at 28 years old, Cally has a lot of hockey left in him. If Shane Doan, a somewhat older version of Cally, can garner a deal which pays him $5.5 million until he’s 39, you can bet the line for our captain’s services go around the block and down Broadway.
When it comes to cap hit comparables, you can’t really look too far back at contracts that have been handed out. Few were signed knowing team salary caps would increase to $70-$71 million in 2014. In my opinion, comparables would probably be Nathan Horton (7 years, $5.3 million per signed in 2013), Dustin Brown (8 years, $5.875 million per signed in 2013), and Travis Zajac (8 years, $5.750 million per signed in 2013).
All of these guys have comparable roles on their respective teams, similar production, and are 28 or 29 years old. Those who think Ryan will get a deeper discount because of this season’s injuries simply have to look at the injury histories of Horton and Zajac. Cally has played in 87% of regular season games the past three seasons, which is a high % than the latter two.
Rangers don’t re-sign Ryan Callahan
Based on what I mentioned in the past section, the Rangers Front Office would be foolish to let Callahan walk this summer, as his skill set is not easily replaced. With that said, the unknown here is what Callahan actually wants for himself. Unfortunately, we won’t know his intentions until a new contract gets signed or not. Although it’s improbable Callahan wants out, it’s not impossible.
Perhaps he wants to play for Buffalo, since he grew up a Sabres fan in nearby Rochester. Perhaps he wants to reunite with Torts, or join an organization that will promise him a role greater than what Alain Vigneault is willing to give (side note, AV has reduced Cally’s role both at even strength and on the power play). Look, there are endless possibilities and you can drive yourself crazy thinking about them.
Gun to my head, I think Cally will re-sign, but it won’t be an easy process. Between now and the deadline there will be plenty of trade rumors from the usual suspects. Just learn to tune them out. If I have learned anything working in sports it is that 90% of what you read from the media is completely made up. The other 10% that does get out to the press is done so purposely. Seldom do things leak by accident.
Some of what does get out is market gauging from front offices and some of it is an agent sending a message to GM’s playing hardball. However, at the end of the day, most meet in the middle and everyone gets their cookie. So hang tight Rangers fans. Things will work itself out.