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The aftermath of the Ryan Callahan/Marty St. Louis blockbuster

It’s sad to see Callahan go, but St. Louis is a special talent

The Ryan Callahan saga finally drew to a close yesterday in dramatic fashion. Boomer Esiason’s report from two weeks ago proved true as the Blueshirts dealt their captain, a 2015 first-round pick and a conditional 2014 second-round pick to the Lightning for Martin St. Louis. Despite plenty of rumors, the move came as quite a shock. It seemed like Callahan was inching closer to an extension with New York and that Tampa Bay was intent on hanging onto St. Louis until the offseason, but the deal quickly became a reality on Wednesday.  There’s a lot to cover here, so let’s get to it.

– Even though we started discussing this possibility a long time ago, it was impossible to prepare for a Callahan trade. It will be very difficult to see him in another uniform. Callahan’s contract demands were much too high, but he was the heart and soul of this team for years and beloved by Rangers fans. It’s a real shame it had to come to this.

– That said, St. Louis and Callahan are on different levels as players. Callahan has exhibited more skill than many give him credit for, but he’s still really a second-line winger (and maybe a third-liner before long). St. Louis, on the other hand, is one of the elite players in the world, even as a 38-year-old. He led the league in scoring last season and is having another great year. Since Callahan entered the league, he has put up 254 points, while St. Louis has notched 622. It’s no contest. So despite how great Callahan was, you can’t help but be happy with the acquisition of St. Louis.

– Of course, bringing in another aging superstar reeks of an early 2000s Sather move. Sather has done a much better job in recent years, but it’s impossible to ignore that. Still, St. Louis isn’t like most 38 year olds in the NHL. He’s still in peak physical condition, has missed fewer games (seven) since 2002-2003 than Callahan has just this season, and he’s really gotten better with age. St. Louis absolutely has a couple more good years in him.

– Which brings us to St. Louis’ contract. He’ll be much cheaper next year than Callahan would have been, and he’s really a discount for his level of production. You have to figure that assuming St. Louis stays healthy and has a solid season, he’ll re-sign with the Rangers quickly and quietly next summer given that he forced his way to New York to play out his career in the first place. Getting say, four more quality seasons out of St. Louis (I think he has that in him) could make this deal look a lot more lopsided in New York’s favor.

– Other than nostalgia for Callahan and St. Louis’ age, the other major concern of the Blueshirt faithful was the two added draft picks to sweeten the pot. Sather himself admitted to being a little concerned about parting with the selections, especially after missing out on the first and second rounds last year. The Hockey News ranked the Rangers 30th in its “Future Watch” issue this week – which is inaccurate – but the team’s prospect pipeline has dried up a bit. Luckily, it looks like the Blueshirts might have hit on each of their third-round choices last season, but it will be crucial to continue drafting well with limited selections over the next two seasons. One thing to watch – the Rangers have plenty of other free agents that they might not retain this summer – don’t be surprised to see the club attempt to trade some of their rights prior to the draft to recoup a pick or two.

– After all the excitement of the deadline had passed, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reported that Sather also had a deal set up with San Jose to fall back on if the St. Louis blockbuster didn’t work out. Sather acknowledged as much, and admitted that the deal with the Sharks was more future-oriented. I’m extremely curious to find out what the terms of that swap might have been. In looking at the Sharks’ roster, it really doesn’t seem like there’s much of a fit with young NHL players. It sounds like dealing Callahan to San Jose might have yielded prospects and draft picks. Trading the captain is a franchise-altering move no matter which way you slice it, but if GM Steve Yzerman had held onto St. Louis, the Rangers franchise might have gone in a very different direction yesterday.

– There’s no doubt that the Rangers are a better team now than they were entering the day. I think I’ve been in the minority, but I felt pretty good about New York’s chances in the Eastern Conference before the trade. Now, I feel even better. They’re hardly the favorite to top Pittsburgh or Boston and the Western Conference is loaded with top teams, but the Rangers have once again put themselves in the conversation on contenders.

59 Responses to “The aftermath of the Ryan Callahan/Marty St. Louis blockbuster”

  1. Spozo says:

    So Boomer Esiason called this before anyone else and he also called the Klein trade. How ironic that an ex football qb jumps to the top of the list when it comes to Ranger trade rumors.

    • Kevin says:

      And the end of the lockout. No one in the Ranger world more tapped in than him right now.

    • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

      He’s one of the talk hosts ( along with Craig Carton ) on a major station in NYC. I’m sure he had an insider inside the organization but even still it was pure luck that he called that one and it went down the way he said. There’s so many variables that could have changed the course of events like a novel. In any event I’ve always liked Boomer and he has cemented himself as a true insider.
      I bet this shocked the heck out of Callahan thinking Sather would blink. I hope he suffers in TB and they miss the playoffs for pricing himself out of NY. MSL gets $5.6 mil per season. How are 11G & 24 points worth what MSL has scored the last 60 games? Sather picked up a contract with more value per point production. MSL had a fairly quiet night offensively but over the next 2-3 games. We will see him become an integral part of Ranger offensive output. Especially on the PP. He adds a scoring threat from the right side with his one timer ability. I suspect the PP to become efficient again. I have said it 100 times now. I think Sather had the room to add a Moulson or Stewart from Buffalo.
      With this trade the Rangers got smaller but maybe faster and more dangerous up front.

      • Chris F says:

        Well that’s a nice sentiment to honor our departed Captain…

        He made a mistake. He priced himself too high. But this was due to the ridiculous market as of late (see Clarkson, Brown, etc), and likely was heavily influenced by his agent.

        No need to wish failure on the guy. He gave every ounce he could for the last 8 years. He bled and broke bones for this organization and he never complained. Give him a break. It’s over. He’s gone. Let it be.

      • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

        I hope he’s good enough for TB to re-sign so the Rangers get a 2nd round pick back. It would make me feel a lot better about the deal.

  2. Chuck A says:

    And can we assume that MSL felt a Cup was closer this year by being in New York than in Florida?

    • Chris F says:

      I’d say so. He said yesterday that he hasn’t had much playoff experience in his career and as he gets older he wanted more opportunities to do so. Presumably that means that he feels more optimistic in that regard playing for NY than TB.

      • Kevin says:

        I think that’s a cop out. Tampa has been far better this year while New York is barely clinging to playoff life. I don’t but that one bit.

        • Chris F says:

          You don’t honestly believe that he wanted out of Tampa exclusively over his non-selection for Olympics, do you? What is he, 12 years old?

          • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

            It was a part of it. He even admitted that. Also, it’s apparent he’s been wanting a trade to NY for a few seasons now based on his near-by roots and the desire to play in a big market.

            • Kevin says:

              Yeah I think it’s: A) be close to home B) Olympic snub C) go somewhere that cares about hockey. Pretty fair list of reasons if you ask me.

        • cv19 says:

          Far better? No. TB was trending southward over the course of the past two months; NY northward.

  3. Hatrick Swayze says:

    Nice write up, Kevin. You made solid points and I concur with them all (especially on a quiet extension getting done after the current contract expires next year).

    I posed this question in the comment section to Dave’s article this morning, but I think it is more relevant here, so let me pose it to you:

    I’m a bit concerned that this MSL acquisition may lead the Rangers brass to assess the Richards buyout differently. Especially if the two of them play well to close this year out. Should I be scared that some short term success may keep us carrying some long term baggage?

    • The Suit says:

      They should absolutely buyout Richards this summer, otherwise we’ll have him till he’s 40.

      • Hatrick Swayze says:

        I agree with you, Suit. I’m just afraid of where Sather’s head is at. Good Richie-MSL chemistry for the remainder of this year, coupled with a thin replacement FA market for Centers this summer, along with this team’s make up of being comprised to win now (2-3 season window) all makes me think that Sather may not exercise the buy out which we all have been expecting.

        • Spozo says:

          Sather didn’t pay Messier to keep him with his buddy Gretzkey. No way he looks at this situation any differently. He’s not keeping Richards until he’s 40 just because of his chemistry with MSL, especially when MSL is only guaranteed to be here another season.

          • Kevin says:

            I understand your concern Hatrick and it crossed my mind too. But while I think it could be tempting to keep Richards if he goes on a tear, I still think logic prevails. The cost far outweighs the benefit, and I trust that Slats knows that.

            • Hatrick Swayze says:

              Thanks for addressing, Kev. I’m with you about the costs/benefits, but nevertheless concerned.

          • Hatrick Swayze says:

            It ain’t that simple. IF Sather sees that he cannot replace Richard’s via free agency he might be tempted to pass on the buyout so that he doesn’t have a gaping hole at C in his line up during what has turned out to be a critical year or two in the team’s cup window.

            Keep in mind here, I’m not advocating to keep Richards. I very much want him bought out. I am merely raising a cautionary flag here. I wouldn’t scoff at the possibility.

            • Kevin says:

              I hear what you’re saying. In an ideal world, Stepan and Brassard aren’t your top 2 centers. But I think that makes a lot more sense than being saddled with Richards for the duration. A strong second half by Lindberg certainly helps. I think a third/fourth line center will be very easy to find should NY be shut out on a true #1 or a #2 as you suggest. And frankly, I think getting more offense from the wings (MSL, Nash, Kreider, Zuc, etc.) lessens the need to have a dynamic pivot. I’m not saying they can just throw anyone in the middle, but having a big point producer is less important if you can create that offense from other positions.

              • Hatrick Swayze says:

                Agreed. My “It ain’t that simple” piece was in response to Spozo.

              • Dave says:

                Depth down the middle is critical for a Cup run. Ideally, Lindberg is your 4C. So when they buyout BR, they will need to replace him with a 2C. My preference is Stastny.

          • James says:

            Neil Smith let Messier walk. Not Sather.

          • Scully says:

            If you’re referring to 1997 when Messier was let go, that was Neil Smith’s watch. Sather didn’t come back until 2000, which is when Messier was brought back…

        • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

          You have to think that is dead now. Richie is here to stay. By the time his play is so bad. The Rangers can still be a young team overall by homegrown talent. I’m glad Sather held this summers 1st round draft pick. Kid named Tuch is a versatile power forward from the USNDPT. Late 1st round pick. Early 2nd even.

          • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

            They lose that pick if the Rangers make the conference finals.

    • Ray says:

      The trade definitely affects the Richards situation if we can take Sather at his word – that he hasn’t made a decision yet. The Rangers avoided the albatross of a Callahan contract (Sather surely knew he was wildly overpaying for a fan favorite) and got a special player at a reasonable salary. Keeping Richards is now perhaps affordable. He seems overpriced, but he is not so easily replaced as power play QB, a role he is at long last filling as he did in his pre-Ranger days. It will be interesting to see what other options Sather has to spend his money.

  4. The Suit says:

    High risk, high reward moves these last 12-14 months. For me, it’s Cup or bust at this point. Another early playoff exit isn’t going to satisfy me.

    • Spozo says:

      What about making it to the ECF final? That extra 1st round pick really throws a wrinkle in to making it to the conference finals only to be ousted.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      The beginning of the year I (along with many other readers here) were upset over how unsuccessful Glen’s retooling process was looking. A dreadful start to the season between Alain’s system, Lundy and Girardi’s poor play, Nash and Callahan’s injuries, etc…. things were looking bleak. We were all questioning the playoffs.

      The turnaround in the teams play leading up to the Olympic break has been remarkable. Couple that with the Klein / MSL acquisitions and the turn around from Torts era to Vingeault era has taken place much faster than I expected.

      I went from being disgruntled to impressed. And I’m pretty surprised to saying this but if the team can get it together down the stretch we are built for a deep run- at least a year sooner than I was expecting it back in November.

    • Dave says:

      Cup Finals…then hope Hank steals a series. That’s the only thing that will make me happy.

      • Gary says:

        Lately he can’t even steal a game… a period. In fact, it’s the other teams’ goalies that are stealing the wins because the Rangers are not playing badly (save for a few bone head mistakes that Hank has not been able to bail out).

        Bad Hank came home from Sochi. He’s got that deer in the headlights look behind the mask again.

        • Scully says:

          Don’t blame Hank, blame horrendous defensive communication, blind passes in the defensive zone, and the defensemen consistently trying to go across the middle with defensive zone passing right into the opponents offensive forecheck. All three goals (counting the lead-up to the penalty shot) happened last night thanks to defensive miscues.

  5. Chris F says:

    If the 1st and 2nd picks turn out to be late round selections, and if Callahan doesn’t re-sign with Tampa, and if MSL signs a modest 2 year extension with NY, then this could play out long term to be a very good deal for NY in relation to how it pans out for TB. Certainly, as La Greca pointed out yesterday, Sather has an easier task of selling this trade to the fan-base than does Yzerman.

    He also pointed out that what everyone loved about Callahan was his intangibles (God knows we didn’t love his production), and it’s clear that those intangibles weren’t really translating into Rangers’ success. It’s a fair point.

    After sleeping on it for a day, this trade definitely feels a little better today. But, I will definitely miss Callahan more than I’ve missed any of the other big departures in recent years.

    I’m just dreading the prospect that Callahan suddenly ignites his game in Tampa and re-signs there, and that age finally catches MSL and we see a huge degradation of his production. It would fit with the Rangers history.

    I’m more optimistic, but still very nervous about this whole debacle. I hope MSL lives up to his reputation. He looked good last night, making good passes and demonstrating his ability to find open space and rattle off chances.

  6. Ray says:

    I agree the Rangers can win the Cup. I really think the goaltending is crucial. They have some chance with Talbot in net, an even better chance with the Lundqvist we saw in the Olympics, and no chance with the Lundqvist we’ve seen for much of this year.

  7. flswarty says:

    The Rangers are a better team with MSL – no doubt. There sure was some exciting moments last night with his new (and old) line mates Hags and Richards.

    Given MSL and Richards are tight (and have the chemistry) it does put the buyout in a different perspective though.

    Here is a thought – Why don’t we get the Cup first and worry about the buyout later…

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      What about when we don’t win the cup this year, but give it a good run? Then Sather decides to give it another go next year and passes up using our last compliance buy out on Richards. And we will be stuck with the baggage long term in order to roll the dice on some short term success.

      If there isn’t a good alternative on the FA market this summer, I’m afraid we may see Sather keep Brad around longer than we all were expecting. That is my concern.

  8. joe719 says:

    The happiest guy around here should be Brad Richards; I can’t see them buying him out now that MSL is here. Does Sather really want to alienate his new senior citizen the way Yzerman did. Will he request a trade again? This is a very risky situation Sather has put this team in. What happens if both Richards and MSL start feeling their age at the same time. Then we’re screwed. And suppose Zuccarello wants an extension that Sather won’t pay? I don’t see too many bona fide NHL ready centers ready to step in in this organization. If JT Miller was the answer, they would stop treating him like a yo-yo. No, Sather has cast his lot with this team, trying to convince everybody, and himself, that we are ready to win now. The way Boston manhandled us; the way Philly outmuscled us and barely getting a point against an overated Leafs team, at home, barely backs up Sather’s assertions. Add in the fact that Hank is not having one of his best years, and you’re left wondering just what team is Sather looking at?

    • Kevin says:

      MSL isn’t stupid, I’m sure he’s well aware of Richards’ future. He’s here to be close to home. Richards is a benefit, but that’s the primary reason.

      Not worried at all about re-signing Zuc. He’s an RFA anyway, NY controls the cards.

      Joe – there have been a couple bad losses, like every team has. What would you say about beating Chicago and Pittsburgh twice?

  9. SalMerc says:

    Really great points made by all. If we are a “now” team, is it because of the roster, the goalie or because Slats is on his way out? Maybe a bit of all.
    MSL is a scoring threat on a team that simply does not score enough, but, who is ready to assume the leadership role in the clubhouse and on the bench? Unsure if Stall can do it, if Nash wants it or if Stepan needs another distraction. If Richards grabs it, and does a good job, it makes cutting him loose even harder.

    Our defense looked slow against Kessel so how will they fare against Pitt? Time for someone to get the team in a room, tell them this is who we go to war with, sing Kumbaya and start playing playoff hockey!

  10. Chris F says:

    Is this summer the last chance, per the CBA, to buy out Richards, or is the “summer deadline” rhetoric more a practical deadline over concerns of an injury or something?

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      Yes, this summer there is a 1 week period (as there was last year) for teams to exercise a one or both of their compliance buyouts.

      If they don’t act then, their get out of jail free card goes away for good.

  11. ranger17 says:

    Anyone think Cally might just have a change of heart and sign with us next year for say 5.or 5.5 for 5 years

    • Kevin says:

      Highly, highly doubt it. Unfortunately, this played out through the press and it wasn’t always pretty. I think the bridge has been burned.

    • Ray says:

      That’s probably still too generous. Sather has already accepted the flak from dealing Callahan, little to be gained from getting him back.

  12. Leatherneckinlv says:

    opinions wanted

    Is this team a Stanley Cup Contender or Pretender?

    • Dave says:

      Contender. Boston is the only real threat, and we shouldn’t see them until the Conference Finals.

  13. Leatherneckinlv says:

    Pretender….at best 2nd round exit….with doubts we even make the playoffs

    • NYRjagr says:

      Pretender… How Long have we been talking about not having enough grit or being physical enough to contend? Oh right Since we were physical and make it to the ECF, back then we said this team didn’t have enough skill to make it. We blew the team up for Nash / not resigning prust (who got over paid) now they are not tough enough. We need a good balance which I don’t believe they have to make it.

  14. NY to NC says:

    I’m really bummed they didn’t trade Stepan. He is absolutely ruining the 1st line, if that’s what you want to call it. If they need grit, start with getting rid of this guy and put someone between Kreider and Nash that can skate with them.

    • Chris A says:

      The problem is not Stepan it’s Kreider. I love the kid and think he has tons of potential but he’s not ready for a first line role yet. He’s lost in the neutral zone and in his own end and forces his linemates to try and compensate for him. It ends up blunting the lines ability to break out quickly and start the attack.

      Once Hagelin and Kreider are swapped you will see the Rangers playing with two top notch scoring lines.

      Kreider will perform better with two veteran playmakers like Richards and MSL, Kreider’s only job on that line will be to take the body and score goals.

      Hagelin can be the puck possession monster Stepan and Nash need to compliment their individual games. Hagelin won’t have to worry as much about shooting, just hounding the puck and dishing to Stepan and Nash which seems to suit Hagelin better.

      • Chris F says:

        Chris A, I approve this message. -Chris F

      • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

        I do think we’ve reached the point where that line has to be altered (line juggling alert!).

        Maybe it’s too simplistic to say adding Hagelin to that line and Kreider to Richards/MSL line will produce better results, but it’s something that has to be looked at.

  15. craig says:

    The Rangers certainly improved with the trade for St Louis offensively but still will not contend with the larger elite teams. Soon as Boston got physical the other night the game turned around. The Rangers can still be intimidated physically. I really liked Chris Stewart from St Louis and was disappointed that he got away. Probably could have landed him for Boyle and prospects. I love and miss Calley, but I really believe that he will not be that great for the Lightning down the road(if he stays)as he ages. He will end up a third line player who may net 15-20 goals if he stays healthy. He would have cost way to much in the next six years and would have help deplete money from the organization. His physicality will begin to diminish in a couple of years and he will become just a decent player. I may catch some slack, but mark my words, I’ve seen it happen many times before.

  16. Bloomer says:

    St Louis has one year left on his contract and then he be pushing 40. Once again the Rangers pissed away their 1st round pick at the trade deadline. The pipeline of future homegrown is depleted and the team could miss the playoffs. Their next move should be a new GM.

  17. mike says:

    great write up Kevin and some very solid points by all

  18. mike says:

    Great writeup Kevin and some very solid points by all