Examining the Value of Ryan Callahan

Ryan Callahan is the type of player that every organization hopes for and every fan base embraces. One would be hard-pressed to find a New York Rangers fan who does not love the captain of the Blueshirts. Callahan does not excel in any particular main category on the scoring sheet, but the balance in his game, the leadership he displays, and his willingness to adapt to whatever role is needed of him has helped establish a winning tradition in New York hockey. However, due to the unanimous adoration of Callahan it is easy to overvalue such a fan-favorite. The question I pose to you is difficult but necessary: Is Ryan Callahan overrated?

I'll just sit here and wait patiently while all of you finish vehemently screaming at your screens, chairs strewn across the floor as your rage launched you into an upright position like a lurking crocodile lunging at a zebra's throat. I like my throat gentlemen, I find that it comes in handy with the breathing and whatnot. So let's calm down and discard our cinder blocks with a chains wrapped around them, they are intimidating and cumbersome and they won't do any of us any good. Now where was I?

Ryan Callahan first joined the New York Rangers in 2006-2007 after a promotion from the formerly known as Hartford Wolfpack/formerly known as Connecticut Whale/presently known as Hartford Wolfpack again because regrets are funny. Although his stint with the Rangers that season was brief with only 14 GP, he established himself as a prospect to watch with 4 G, 2 A, and 9 PIM. He eventually landed a spot on the full-time roster during the 2007-2008 season in which his stat line showed 52 GP, 8 G, 5 A, and 31 PIM at the conclusion of the season. Ever since that '06-'07 campaign, Callahan has progressed and developed like few other Ranger prospects have in recent memory. He has at various times shown a flair for the scoring touch, vision for some nifty passes, and demonstrated his stalwart defensive capabilities. His determination and effort on the ice and in the locker room culminated in the C being sewn on his sweater following the retirement of Chris Drury in 2011. All of this looks like a formula for a fan favorite, but what it does not show me is a first line player. Honestly, I'm not sure if it shows me the credentials of a bona fide second line player either. Let's investigate further.

Seriously, drop the cinder block. We can patch up that hole in your drywall later, just breathe. No, not with the lungs, with the diaphragm. Yeah, that's it. Real deep.

"Ryan Callahan scored 29 goals in 2011-2012 you flat-footed shmuck!" you are yelling. "He has been in the top 5 scorers on the team in each of the past four years you stick-legged peasant!" is echoing through your home/office/treehouse. "You don't understand HEART! You're a robot. A soulless, cold robot with wires for veins and no understanding of shot-blocking and love!" I know, I understand. Ryan Callahan is a good hockey player, particularly a great defensive forward. Therein lies the crux of the issue. Having Callahan as a second line forward is not a detriment to the team per se, but it is not his role. The difference between a team with Ryan Callahan on the first line compared to a team with Callahan in the middle-2 is pretty dramatic. Now I don't have to remind you of what we saw from the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks this Stanley Cup Finals. Depth wins championships and an essential aspect of depth is players filling roles. I believe that while Callahan's defensive prowess is fantastic, his offensive capabilities are overachieving and overrated.

Stop making a voodoo doll of my likeness, it's creepy. Plus my nose isn't THAT crooked. Wait, let me check the mirror. My God, you're right. It is. Still, drop the pins.

Callahan has hovered around the 50-point mark the past few seasons, eclipsing it in 2011-12 and on pace to do so again in this previous 2012-2013 season. With his recent outburst of 29 goals in '11-'12 and his continued contributions in the offensive zone last season, expectations have been raised for the captain to possibly be a 30-goal scorer and a 70 point player. Let's end this real quick, like pulling a Band-Aid or admitting you like Ke$ha to your buddies: Callahan is not going to be that player. His offensive production was inflated due to his play on the first line and second lines with players like Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, and Marian Gaborik when he was lighting more lamps than electricians in the wake of a blackout. Lest I remind you that Petr Prucha once scored 30 goals when he played with Jaromir Jagr. Peter Prucha! All that guy had was enough hand-eye coordination to tap a puck two feet into an empty net on powerplay feeds from Jagr and an award-winning smile that could melt the hearts of women everywhere. That comparison to Prucha, as ridiculous as it is on the surface, actually brings me to another point. I stick by my feeling that Ryan Callahan is a middle-2 player, but the man should absolutely be put on the powerplay. Here is Callahan's powerplay production the past few years:






% of P on PP


































Callahan was first on the team in powerplay points in each of the past four years with the exception of 2009-2010 when he ranked second, 6 points behind Marian Gaborik in his stellar 86-point campaign. Callahan's contribution in PP situations has been a huge factor in his point production and proves he belongs there. These numbers also reflect that Callahan is a powerplay specialist, not a perennial 30-point goal scorer or 70-point player. He is a capable player, an essential cog in the machinery of the Rangers, but he is a second or, ideally, a third line forward. Can he play on the first and second lines? Yes, of course. P.A. Parenteau can play on those lines too and produce a decent amount of points. *Checks P.A. Parenteau stats* ... 67 POINTS?!? WHAT THE EFFING EFF? That smug-faced putz looked like a newborn giraffe with scoliosis on the ice for the Rangers!

Anyway, hopefully you can see my rationale for Ryan Callahan as a consideration for a third line player for the New York Rangers if they hope to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup. If not, let me sum it up real nice and pretty with possibly some glitter and a bow on it for you. Ideally, a team with enough depth and scoring has Ryan Callahan as their third line leader. Callahan is your quintessential successful third liner. He is defensively impenetrable, brings a lot of energy, hitting, shot-blocking, and puck possession. He'll grind it out in the corners and contribute on the offense as a depth scorer during even strength like a Stanley Cup caliber third line should. That's right, if the Rangers want to win a Stanley Cup while the window remains open with stars like Henrik Lundqvist, Rick Nash, and Ryan McDonagh then they need to fill out some depth talent and invest in offensively potent players to the point where a third line with Ryan Callahan on it is possible. Keep him on the powerplay, he is magic. Lundqvist saved our asses again through 3 and 1/4 periods? Send him out there in the shootout where he has shown some reliability. Well, at least relative reliability since every other New York Ranger not named Mats Zuccarello essentially forgets what hockey is during the shootout. I love Ryan Callahan as we all do. He is our captain, exemplifying and representing the New York Rangers logo, organization, and city wonderfully. He can still be all that on the third line in a roster battling for the Stanley Cup.

Thanks guys and gals. I'd love to hear your take on this and as always Let's Go Rangers.

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