Get ready for the crazy. Seriously, get ready for it. The ground is slowly being to shake with trade rumors, and before long the tidal wave those rumors generate will wash over the Internet until the deadline actually passes. As usual, the New York Rangers are in the middle of things. The difference, at least this time around, is the Rangers are buying sellers.
Typically, when the trade deadline looms, there are two types of teams: Buyers and sellers. The differences are obvious. Buyers are teams who believe they're close to contending or a Stanley Cup and are willing to part with youth and assets to help get them closer. Sellers are teams who aren't going to contend and are willing to trade veterans and experienced players with the hope that the youth and assets traded to them in exchange help them in the future.
Very, very rarely a third team enters the mix, however. The buying seller. The buying seller is a team that is a buyer at the deadline, but they have players who are about to become unrestricted free agents that they can't seem to get under contract for one reason or another. These teams understand that losing the UFA-bound players for nothing would be a disaster, and make a move to get something for them rather than lose them for nothing.
As you can guess, the Rangers are doing this right now with Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi. Both players are core members of the team, both are beloved by both the organization and the fanbase and both are UFA-bound players. Neither seem destined to work out a contract with the team, so both are on the trading block.
You have, inevitably, seen the Ryan Callahan rumors. They were pretty rampant before the Olympics, but now they're out of control. Callahan is being traded to St. Louis. No, wait, Callahan is being traded FOR Martin St. Louis. Girardi is going to Anaheim. Wait, Boston. San Jose? No, it's definitely Anaheim. Right?
Get ready for all of that. And probably more.
Here's what we know right now. The Rangers have three decisions when it comes to both of these player:
Option 1: Trade him before the trade deadline.
Option 2: Re-sign him to a contract.
Option 3: Keep him for a playoff run and then see if a pact can't be agreed upon with the extra time. If so, great, if not, move them before the draft.
The problem with Option 3 is the Rangers will watch both Girardi and Callahan's trade value plummet after the trade deadline. As UFA's their value is in their role of a rental for a run at the Stanley Cup. By the end of the season their worth becomes exclusive negotiating time with the team they're traded to. The difference in a return is massive.
Personally, I would be shocked if the Rangers used the third option on either and had to move them at the deadline. If Glen Sather keeps them you can assume both sides are close enough to a deal that he thinks the extra time will help. If nothing changes between today and the trade deadline in terms of contract negotiations, expect both to be sent packing.
I already talked about how you need to remove your heart from these potential trades. Glen Sather, thankfully, seems to be thinking with his head. He knows how much of a disaster it would be if the Rangers lost either (or worse: both) for nothing over the summer. See, the players get more value once the summer comes around if they're not traded. They can look at Sather during negotiations and remind him that they can walk for nothing, or he can agree to their high demands and overpay for them.
It's for that reason that Sather stands in front of one of the most important decisions he's ever had to make in recent memory. He can't screw this decision up. A mistake might haunt the Rangers for years, which a masterstroke could put the Rangers in a favorable position for years to come. The stakes aren't that high, right?
Personally, I love Callahan and Girardi as much as the next guy. I don't have a single bad thing to say about either of them. Both of them make me proud to be a Rangers fan. But both want too much money for too long. And both can bring a return that sets the Rangers up very nicely for the future, while not hurting their chances this year.
A lot of it depends on the return, of course, but I think a trade is more favorable to the Rangers than keeping both for seven years.
We'll see what does end up happening soon. But until we know for sure, hold on to your life jackets, this trade deadline is going to be interesting.
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