Of the New York Rangers' 12 pending free agents, the two biggest–and longest tenured–names are Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi. But tonight, courtesy of TSN's Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger, comes the not so startling revelation that one or both Rangers' stalwarts could be on the move. Glen Sather has reportedly reached out to several GM's to gauge interest in Callahan, and if neither signs before the trade deadline, they could both conceivably go.
Girardi and Callahan will be coveted free agents when–and if–they hit the open market. Girardi is reportedly seeking a six or seven-year deal similar to St. Louis' Jay Bouwmeester ($5.4 million per), while Callahan wants seven years at $6 million per season.
A quick glance at some of the recent contracts doled out around the league suggests that neither's demands are all that farfetched. Then 35-year old Mark Streit got a 4-year pact at $5.25 million per from the Philadelphia Flyers this past offseason–Girardi figures to be worth more–and David Clarkson–who's only once topped 20 goals–scored a ridiculous 7 years at $5.25 million per year from the boneheaded Leafs.
A sucker is born everyday, and there's always someone willing to grossly overpay. If Callahan and Girardi hit the open market, you can bet it will be the same story, which is why it's not a surprise to hear that the pair could be moved if they appear unwilling to re-up before the March 5th trade deadline. The Rangers simply cannot afford to lose either player for nothing–which, as UFA's, would happen if they signed elsewhere–nor can they afford to grossly overpay with so much of their roster set to hit the open market.
It's difficult when it comes to players who have been career Rangers like Callahan and Girardi, but you have to take emotion out of the equation. Callahan is a soon-to-be 29-year old whose injury track record is not sterling and has never scored 30 goals or 60 points. No one brings more intangibles to the table than the Rangers' captain, but is he worth 6 million dollars a year on a deal that will take him beyond his 36th birthday? No he's not.
Girardi at $5.4 million is somewhat more reasonable, but seven years for a player who's turning 30 will be difficult to swallow. Throw in the aforementioned fact that there's always someone willing to overpay, and the prudent move for the Girardi household may be to hit the open market in the summer.
Callahan and Girardi are both good hockey players, but neither is of the caliber of Henrik Lundqvist–the face of the franchise–and neither's skill set is as natural a fit in Alain Vigneault's speed kills system as it was in John Tortorella's human battering ram scheme.
It's been said before, but it bears repeating now: The Rangers are a club in transition. With the team as it currently stands quite obviously not on the verge of winning a Stanley Cup, Glen Sather has to do what he sees fit to improve the roster–not just for the here and now, but for the near future too–and letting two assets walk out the door is no one's idea of improvement.
The plan still undoubtedly remains to keep Callahan and Girardi in Broadway blue–but only at the right price–and for a franchise with a long, storied history of free agent follies, this most recent development should be viewed as welcome–if not overdo–news.
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