In last nights 5-1 drubbing of the thoroughly overmatched Colorado Avalanche, Ryan Callahan scored two goals, giving him 11 in what's been an injury plagued, frustrating season for the Rangers' captain. Before last night, Callahan had tallied just two goals in his last 19 games.
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you're probably at least somewhat aware that the Rangers and their captain are in the midst of a contract squabble that threatens to end the relationship between player and team. Two goals in 19 games benefited neither of the parties involved.
As the ballad of Michael Del Zotto recently proved, it's awfully difficult to get full value for a player who's struggling, or, at best, generally a non-factor in games. And in recent weeks, with the eyes of a litany of scouts on the Rangers, Callahan has been in anything but peek form. Since his most recent return from injury, the winger has been relegated to a third line role and has played sparingly on the power play–where he historically has done the bulk of his damage.
His struggles and injury woes have done nothing to alleviate the fears of potential suitors, and even the Rangers themselves, that the blue-collar Callahan is an old 28.
Some might surmise that Callahan having a down year–driving down his price and making him more affordable–would, in a round about way, be good for the Blueshirts. But, the Captain's price–barring a disastrous finish to the year or catastrophic injury–is unlikely to diminish.
Teams have shown in the past, the Rangers being one of them, that they're willing to dole out a large contract to a free agent even after the player has had a perceived "off year." Take the Blueshirts disastrous decision to sign Wade Redden, or the Blue Jackets inking of Nathan Horton last summer as examples.
What teams aren't willing to do is pay a premium in a trade for a slumping player–the Marian Gaborik deal last deadline day is a good example–which is why if Callahan, always a streaky scorer, gets hot, the Rangers can only benefit.
If he scores and stays, great–it'll go a long way to giving the Rangers three solid lines capable of putting the puck in the net. If he plays well and is traded, that works too, because with each goal scored, Callahan will make it a little easier for Glen Sather to get the assets in return that would make losing the Captain tolerable.
Whether he stays or goes, this much is universal: If their captain gets hot, the Blueshirts can't lose.
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