Why can’t the Rangers come out of the East?

February 5, 2014, by

The Rangers probably won’t win the Stanley Cup this year – but their chances would go from slim to almost none without Ryan Callahan

Unfortunately, we were not able to get the goal breakdown last night since Dave was traveling for work, Chris was traveling for pleasure, Suit had a hockey game, Becky was working late, etc, etc. Check back later this afternoon for an abbreviated recap.

One of the chief arguments for trading Ryan Callahan and/or Dan Girardi is that the Rangers aren’t a contender this year even with those veterans on board, so the team should trade one or both to set itself up for the future.

The organization has made it very clear that winning now is the goal, a philosophy many pessimistic fans don’t agree with because they don’t see the roster as talented enough to take home the ultimate prize.  To me, that’s the wrong way of looking at it.

I’m not saying that there aren’t other perfectly legitimate reasons for moving those valuable veterans – if the team can’t or won’t come to a contract agreement with them, then getting as much as possible in return does make some sense.  But I don’t see any scenario wherein the Rangers acquire a player that will be a near-equal replacement for either man, and trading them for future assets (prospects and draft picks) doesn’t help at all for 2013-2014 and doesn’t fit the team’s current plan.

Also, the notion that the Blueshirts can’t be a contender this season is silly.  Am I predicting a Stanley Cup?  No, but I don’t think the Rangers are that far behind their Eastern Conference foes, Pittsburgh and Boston included.  Those two have long been the model franchises of the conference, but I’d take my chances against either in a best-of-seven series.

We’ve seen year after year that Marc-Andre Fleury can’t handle the pressure of the postseason and that alone has been Pittsburgh’s undoing on several occasions.  And don’t forget that Pittsburgh has enjoyed a full season of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the ice together – a luxury that’s been exceedingly rare for the Penguins in recent years.  If one of them goes down with injury again – a very real possibility – Pittsburgh suddenly looks a whole lot less scary.

As for Boston – the Bruins wiped the floor with the Rangers in the playoffs last spring, but they aren’t quite the juggernaut we’re used to seeing either.  Boston has been hot lately and ranks among the league leaders in most statistical categories, but the Bruins aren’t as stacked as they’ve been.  Losing defenseman Dennis Seidenberg for the year was a huge blow, and the Bruins have struggled to replace some of the key players they lost over the summer.  It’s not that Reilly Smith and Jarome Iginla aren’t having good years, but the four-line meat grinder the Bruins had been in the past is no more.

Both Pittsburgh and Boston are undeniably better than the Rangers, but I think there are reasons to be optimistic that the Blueshirts could hang with them in a playoff series.  And remember, it’s not necessarily fair to compare what’s happened between the teams in the past – things have changed dramatically under Alain Vigneault.

Now you’re thinking: “alright, even if the boys have a chance in the East, do you really expect me to believe they can take down the league’s real top dogs: Chicago, Los Angeles, San Jose, Anaheim or St. Louis?”  Probably not, but I’d at least like to take a shot.

We’ve seen it year after year – anything can happen in the playoffs.  It wasn’t that long ago that the Rangers were on the outside looking in every spring, so we should know all too well how lucky a team is just to make it to the postseason.  Even having a small chance at swinging a big upset and going on a run can be worth it.  The best team doesn’t always win the Stanley Cup, but you don’t get a chance at being that Cinderella story if you don’t bring your A-game to the dance.

There’s a high probability that the Blueshirts will end the season disappointed, the same as 28 other teams.  But their chances of getting anywhere near the Cup will be decreased even more if the likes of Callahan and Girardi aren’t on the roster.  Trading their rights after the season would result in a much, much smaller return, but since I think they can come out of the East, that’s an unfortunate reality I’m willing to accept.

Categories : Musings


  1. Prustyballs94 says:

    I don’t agree that our chances would be crushed by trading Callahan. His role on this team has been severely diminished since he gets no powerplay time, where he does his most damage production wise. You cam argue about his intangibles and him being Captain, I guess. But production and possession wise, he probably wouldn’t be missed too much and can probably be replaced.

    • Walt says:

      Prustyballs makes plenty of sense with this post. I believe that if we can address the major problem, a big power forward, with soft hands, and grit, we can play with just about anyone in the NHL.

      Anything can happen in the play-offs, and if you have a world class man in goal, anything can happen. If you have a pretender in goal, flaky Fluery, well all that skill in front of you goes out the window. Bottom line, Callie is a great captain, but so is Towes, Crosby, Brown, the list goes on, and they all haven’t won a cup. The grunts win the cup, and we need some big time grunts, we have enough skilled guys!!!!!

      • Kevin says:

        Walt, I assume you’re referring to Stewart here. I like him as a player, but he’s just nowhere near as complete as Callahan. If you think Pouliot is inconsistent, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

        • Walt says:

          Then go get someone like him to take care of this problem. If Callie is a part of this package so be it. Maybe we bring up Miller, and let him get a real shot, like Kreider got, and he could be a part of the solution!!

          • Kevin says:

            I think that’s much, much easier said than done

          • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

            Kreider came up and earned his stay this season. Miller plays well with the puck but has much to learn about playing in his own zone. Miller should stay in Hartford the rest of the season and play 18-20 mins a night. When the playoffs start he’ll be part of the taxi squad and play in the event of an injury.

          • sheldon says:

            How about trading Cally and a prospect to Van. for Ryan Kesler both are RH shots and 29 yrs old .Cally is type of player that Torts loves to have on his team and the Rangers get a bigger forward with the same heart as Cally.

        • Centerman21 says:

          Hey not for nothing but Pouliot has been very good for the Rangers for the last month. The outdoor game against the Devils he was a monster without scoring a goal. He’s been a force in front of the net on the PP and completes that 3rd line. With him and that 3rd line playing like they are, teams have to game plan for a top 9 instead of just a top 6. I hope the Rangers stand pat at the deadline or deadlines.
          The only thing I think Sather should or may consider doing is trading Boyle. He’s a Big centerman playing wing on the 4th line and Dom Moore is cheaper and does the same thing. Boyle makes $1.7 mil per. That’s a little high for a 4th line winger. He does many little things and has played well on the PK all season but Dorsett should be back after the Olympic break. He could be traded for a draft pick or prospect.

          • BG says:

            Pouliot seems to be making the good little plays to spring a rush from the D zone and is getting to the net; his size could also be a factor in Zuccs and Brass’ success as of late as well.

      • BG says:

        What are you talking about? All those captains have cups (Toews has 2) except Cally. Where do you get your facts? Brooksie? Torts?

    • Kevin says:

      Intangibles are exactly where I’d start the argument. I also think his season has been so disrupted by injuries that he’s not quite where he normally is, and will soon be (last night was a good start). As for the power play, I’m not convinced he won’t be back there before long. Pouliot has been great in front of the net, but I’m not so sure that will last the rest of the year.

      • Scully says:

        Just wait until Callahan gets back from the olympics he’ll be really firing on all cylinders!

    • RangerGrl says:

      Sorry, have to disagree. It would be a huge mistake to trade him now. 11 points in 15 games since he’s back is pretty darn good production, especially since he’s been doing it 5-on-5. (And the PP hasn’t been productive lately, so I look for AV to return him there at some point.) On top of that – I was at the game last night and you could absolutely tell that the entire team was playing for him. They love him. I’m not saying they can win the Cup, but they need their Captain if they want to have a chance. Can’t be replaced (right now).

    • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

      How has Callahan’s role diminished? He’s the 2nd line RW and regularly kills penalties. He’s not getting time on the PP so he’s not important anymore? I think he should be on one of the 2 PP units for his right handed shot and willingness to play in the tough areas. Maybe he is just now 100% healthy and will get some mins on the PP. I can’t see how trading the captain helps unless you have no chance of making the playoffs. The Rangers are making the playoffs.

    • vrp says:

      Leadership is, at times, highly overrated, and tends to diminish in direct correlation with performance. There was no leader greater than Messier – until the numbers went south. His teams did not play a single game of post-season hockey in his last seven years, and he was universally despised by the players during his three years in Vancouver, viewed not as a leader but as a selfish, past-his-prime, prima donna. His return to NY was more embarrassing than inspiring as he hogged ice time he was clearly not earning. Callahan is at an age when decline sets in and intangibles atrophy.

  2. Todd says:

    I respectfully disagree with you. This year if we get to the Conference finals it is a win win season. This team does not have the size to compete with the Bruins, Ducks, etc in a seven game series.
    I am trying to be realistic.
    There are one or two pieces missing to consider the Rangers a Cup contender.
    We need a Prime first line center and a gritty BIG forward.
    Look at the 94 team. That team could play in any physical gritty game or a face skill like game.
    We are close but we need to change a few pieces.

  3. Bloomer says:

    I believe the Rangers are a very good group of hockey players (which is why I was going ape shit when they had such a lousy start of the season). They have the best defensive group in the league and now that Lundquist has his groove back they have Top Tier goaltending. On offence if you look back to the Gaboruik trade when they acquired Brassard and resigned the super Hobbit, they have been a lot more potent on offence. I wouldn’t trade either Cally or Danny G. I would keep them and see how far this team goes in the playoffs.

    If the team can stay healthy
    (injuries prevented the Rangers from going further in the playoffs last year IMO), then I think they have the talent and playoff experience to beat anyone. Yes Anaheim and the Sharks are power houses and the Hawks are the Champs. But the playoffs is different then the regular season. It is the team that is the most consistent and can outlast the others that wins the Lord Stanley Cup and I think the Rangers have a legitimate shot.

  4. svessien says:

    I was happy to read this post. I have been thinking the same lately, that this Rangers team could be a dark horse indeed. Throughout the season, it seems the group has developed a lot of chemistry. They’ve been down together and gotten up again. The have learned to play on their strenghts. Don’t underestimate the power of team spirit. Let’s go Rangers!

  5. SalMerc says:

    Goaltending gets you far in the playoffs. I think we have 2 very good ones. That being said, we need to be able to score more than 2 goals a game, which we have been able to do of late. The game gets smaller and tighter in the playoffs. Guys like Zuke, Kreider and Cally need to open the ice up for scorers like Nash. We need a big 3rd line threat. Maybe that player is in Hartford or maybe can be had for Brass and JT, but Hags isn’t scoring as needed, so grab a sniper and let the playoffs begin.

    • Walt says:


      Your right!!!
      How is it that the Pens get a player like Neal, for what boils down to nothing?? We need more size, and grit. Ducks, Hawks, Flyers, Pens, Blues, Kings, all have that main ingrident, and we need some!!!!!!

      • Chris A says:

        Not for nothing but we did get McD for nothing from MTL. I wouldn’t trade him for Neal in Pitt, I am pretty sure you wouldn’t either.

        Point is, some GMs make questionable moves. That trade was a headscratcher when Dallas made it and it’s embarrassing now. Similar to the Gomez deal with MTL.

    • Gary says:

      The GPG is gradually climbing. The trend is your friend.

  6. Spozo says:

    Why not consider Cally the rental player the Rangers add to this team without giving up any assets?

      • Spozo says:

        Haha it is funny how that man changes his view on issues every other day. I’ve been adamant that I think this team is good enough to give Boston and Pitt a run for the conference finals. I just think trading Cally and/or Girardi kills that chance. If either are traded they will be as rentals to teams looking to make serious runs. Teams that will not give up significant roster players (ie Stewart from the Blues- lets face it, in that trade the other is team is getting hands down the better player). Since significant roster players are not coming back this way this means possibly a first round pick, which will be in the bottom third of the first round. That, to me, is not worth sacrificing a possible big run by a team that has looked pretty damn good for more than the last month and who has the best goalie in the world. And there’s still the possibility these guys get signed, so unless something magical falls in to Sathers lap (ie McDonagh for Gomez) I don’t think a trade should happen.

  7. Gary says:

    Agree w/ you points Kevin. Esp. with Girardi. No way he walks… pay that man! As for Cally, I have been on the fence about him, but as long as his agent is not antagonistic or unrealistic, pay that man too.

    This goes back to a point I made a few days ago. This team rolls 4 lines and has become one of those swarming, relentless teams that I love to watch play hockey. So don’t mess with it.

    Sign G and find a compromise with Cally (if possible, his headline demand #’s make no sense if they’re anything close to reality) and then do nothing or next to nothing at the deadline.

    This team – assuming this is really who they are – is already better than the Bruins. As for the Pens, the Rangers not technically not as good but they can sure beat them. They can beat anybody now. Not will, but can.

    I say don’t mess with this team.

  8. paulronty says:

    Absolutelt this team could win the Stanley Cup. A great D with a great goalie gives them that chance. And although not a huge team NYR have grit but most of all they can kill with speed. In the playoffs, special teams are crucial. Our PK is first rate & if the PP can score some goals, look out! This team is currently showing some confidence & that is key.

  9. Dave says:

    The Rangers have as good a shot as any to come out of the East. If that happens, you hope Hank can steal you a Cup.

  10. Kevin says:

    The Rangers can handle both Boston and especially Pittsburgh easily with AVs new system. I don’t think that trading Callahan or holding onto him really effects that. The question is whether or not Sather can get an upgrade to Callahan for the second line that fits AVs style of play, and if he can, I don’t see why they don’t trade him.

    • Chris A says:

      Yeah Kevin, the Rangers will skate circles around the shaky bluelines of both Pittsburgh and Boston.

      As long as Staal, Girardi and McD are healthy and ready to play 25 minutes a night in the playoffs the Rangers will be extremely tough to beat in a series.

  11. Ray says:

    Compare the Rangers to the 2003 Ducks. They have better skaters and a better goaltender. But Giguere was in a zone and the Ducks got to Game 7 of the Finals. Lundqvist has played solidly in the playoffs for the most part, but he’s never gotten really hot. If he does, the Rangers are probably the favorites.

    I wouldn’t mind upgrading from Callahan, but I wouldn’t deal him unless a good forward was coming back somehow. I don’t see Girardi on the block. He and the Rangers will get a new contract done.

  12. Chris F says:

    This team is not struggling in any areas. They are scoring goals, they are defending well, and goaltending has been very good as of late.

    More importantly, they are winning consistently. It took time to get here, but the team grew together under AV and is now as competitive as anyone in the League. Messing with this balance is a dangerous idea.

    People can predict whatever they want regarding the team’s ceiling this year, but these are still nothing more than predictions. Is a 1st line center or a power forward winger going to be the piece that pushes this team past its ceiling or would such a move mess with a good thing and set this team back?

    Don’t underestimate the intangibles of a team losing its captain, no matter the return.

    I say stand pat and let this group reach their destination together. They’ve earned that opportunity.

    As for their ceiling, this team isn’t lacking in anything that could be seen as essential to a Cup run. They have the necessary pieces and have shown they know how to execute with these pieces.

    If Hank rides a Hot streak into the playoffs, there is no limit on where THIS team can go.

    Let’s go Rangers! Long live Captain Cally!

    • Spozo says:

      With the PP drying up lately is it time to get Cally back in to the regular PP rotation?

    • Ray says:

      Changing captains is an intangible, but it cuts both ways. The next guy may be a better leader. On balance this year, the team has not overachieved. Hard to see how a money first captain is a plus. personally, I’d keep Cally as a player this year, but put the C on someone else.

      • Chris F says:

        That’s asinine, Ray. Callahan has nothing to warrant being stripped of his captaincy. That would be a worse move than trading him.

        Look, I think Callahan should accept a $5.5 million per year deal as much as the next guy, but just because his agent put out a high initial offer doesn’t make Callahan a “money first captain.”

        It’s business. A deal will get done, and that’s best for the team.

        • Ray says:

          I’m hoping a deal doesn’t get done actually, since I think the Rangers have already offered too much. But I really don’t know what will happen. I do know, as does everyone here, that a captain who is about to leave is a distraction. And if the Rangers are resigned to Cally’s departure, moving the C is a plus.

          We are judged by our actions. Callahan has behaved in a way that I would not and have always found reprehensible. Sincere or not, he has asked to be overpaid in a salary cap world. That makes him “money first”. Does that mean that money is all he cares about? Certainly not.

  13. Dave says:

    I’m with Prustyballs94. Love Cally, but trading him would notnecessarily hurt their playoff chances. His role has been diminished and you could replace some of his intangibles and add size and toughness, not with Stewart but with Steve Ott. And Ott, 31, also a UFA, currently $2.95M/yr, could be extended for a lot less $$$ and years than Cally. Perhaps Buffalo, who would love to get Callahan because of his connection to the area, could throw in a prospect or pick since Cally is the better player at this point in their careers?

    • Kevin says:

      Steve Ott is a downgrade in all areas. We’re looking for upgrades

    • RangerGrl says:

      I like Ott. But I like Cally more — for this team right now. Losing him would absolutely hurt our playoff chances. The team is clicking and he’s a big part of it. As for diminished role — that’s a good thing. It means we have a more balanced team. It means less opportunity for tired bodies to get hurt. It means we’re harder to play against because every line is a threat. I’m not saying sign him to some ridiculous contract. I’m saying don’t trade him now — even if it means he walks over the summer.

    • Dave says:

      What is this fan bases obsession with Steve Ott?

  14. Chuck A says:

    Metrics: the NYR are 25/1 odds to take the cup (http://www.oddsshark.com/nhl/stanley-cup-futures-0).

  15. Mikeyyy says:

    If Callahan is half the captain Crosby is. He will take a cut to stay.

    if you say its just business. Then your a mercenary. And should be treated thusly.

    cally just needs to sign with a ntc. Take a bit of a hit on salary and finish off in ny.

    and be a captain instead of just a player.

    he’s wearing a rangers jersey. I expect more out of a captain playing on one of the biggest stages in the world. I’m not am NHL fan. I’m a rangers fan. Lets see if cally is too.

    • sheldon says:

      If Callahan signs for 6.5 mil he will make himself untradeable, nobody wants to take on that salary for a 40 point guy who is hurt a lot.

      • Chris A says:

        If you frontload the deal so that he has something like a $2M salary and $6.5M cap hit for the final two seasons, Callahan becomes extremely attractive to teams trying to reach the Salary Floor.

  16. Liam O'Dougherty says:

    How can u possibly say they are not contenders,the only team in the division ahead is pitt and when u have guys like hank who can steal a series how can u not be a threat, then add on the recent level of play

  17. FrankCerbone says:

    If Rangers could trade their #1 pick in this year’s draft with Callahan, they might be able to move up in the draft with the Islander’s pick. I don’t think Buffalo would give up their #1 pick for Callahan & Ranger’s #1 pick.

  18. bernmeister says:

    With reasonable luck, we can be in the SCF.
    However, usually anything doesn’t happen, and it would take more luck than the 69 mets to win it all.

    Realistic chances?
    So slim to none, not realistic this year.

    However, if we trade certain guys now for a profit, we can set up to be better next year, possibly better enough.

  19. Lou says:

    To begin with, the playoffs are about matchups. Simply, some teams play better against some than others. We stand a far better chance against Boston than Pitts…its the style of game. Pittsburgh opens it up and we start chasing our tail.

    So, to say Rangers cant come out of the east is pure b/s.

    As for Cally and the roster: (a) we need to move Cally (asking too much, too long of a contract and he has a diminished role now and in the future – aside from injuries). (b) we need to get bigger (still love Ladd or Byfluien). and (c) We need to get tougher. In the playoffs, do you really want a line of Brassard, Zuc and Pouliot — they wil get punished! How much better is Brassard (im not a big fan of), Zuc and Ott?! That’s my point on the roster.

    Trade Cally, maybe trade Girardi – get in grit, size and more grit. Lets Go Rangers!