We're a little over a full 24 hours before the 2014 NHL Trade Deadline comes into effect. A little over 24 hours before we finally get an answer about what direction the Rangers are going to be heading in this home stretch. And a little over 24 hours before we either get the answer, or an answer about Ryan Callahan.
What do I mean by that?
AN answer would be the Rangers not being able to find a suitor for Callahan and keeping him for a playoff run before dancing this dance again in the summer. THE answer would be either trading Callahan or signing him to a new contract before 3 p.m. Wednesday.
As it stands right now, with what we know about these negotiations, the Rangers have offered Callahan a six-year, $36-million offer. Yesterday, it was reported that Callahan had come off his seven-year demand and lowered his asking price a little. A pretty large gap still remained, however.
Then it was reported that Callahan had actually come off his demands a little prior to the Olympic break, and the two sides still couldn't come to an agreement. So any optimism you see from people because "someone finally blinked" keep in mind that Callahan blinked at least three weeks ago and we still haven't gotten anywhere.
This isn't a new situation. Negotiations drag on like this all the time. This particular negotiation is getting a lot of attention because it's New York and because Callahan is the captain. But thankfully Glen Sather isn't looking at the situation that way. I love Ryan Callahan. I love him as a player, I love the way he works, I love what he represents. But I also recognize that Ryan Callahan is not as effective in Alain Vigneault's system. Or at least he hasn't been this year.
The six years, $36-million offer makes me uncomfortable. And that's a deal Callahan can sign right now if he wants to. The Rangers walked into last summer with a lot of question marks. Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello were the RFAs who got locked up. Henrik Lundqvist and Dan Girardi just inked new deals to keep them away from the free agent market. Callahan is the final piece of the puzzle ... if he stays.
What's complicated the situation is the St. Louis swap with Buffalo (pulled assets from the Blues that would have likely come back for Callahan) and Tampa Bay has been ominously silent since the news broke about Martin St. Louis last week. Maybe Steve Yzerman knows he has more leverage now that one of the major (reported) trade partners with Callahan moved on. Or maybe he is just seeing if Sather panics as we get closer to the wire.
I talked about this on Monday, but keeping Callahan as a "rental" doesn't make much sense. It tanks his trade value (UFAs are far less valuable in the summer than they are at the deadline) and it removes Sather's leverage since Callahan can threaten to walk for nothing if he doesn't pay up. And that's not a situation I think the Rangers want to be in, since the options become far more limited.
Then again, I doubt the Rangers wanted it to come down to the wire at the deadline either. Unless Sather has a plan. And he might, actually.
We don't call him the evil genius around here for nothing.