After what seemed like an eternity of negotiating, the Rangers and Ryan Callahan finally settled on a deal. They decided to trade their captain to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Martin St. Louis.
This trade has been a rumor for weeks now, and it finally came to fruition with just a few hours left in the trade deadline on Wednesday afternoon. Along with acquiring Callahan, the Lighting get the Rangers’ first-round pick in the 2015 draft and the Rangers’ second-round pick this year. That second-round pick becomes a first-round pick if the Rangers end up making the Eastern Conference finals this season. If Callahan resigns with the Lightning, the Rangers gets a conditional second-round pick in 2015 and the Lightning gain New York’s 2015 seventh-round pick.In the end, a trade needed to be made for Callahan. Rangers’ general manager Glen Sather and Callahan’s agent could not come to an agreement on a contract extension. First, the argument was over years: Callahan wanted seven and Sather would only offer five. Finally the sides agreed to meet in the middle at six years, but then there was a disagreement over wages which apparently was only around a $200,000 per year difference. With only hours to go, the Rangers didn’t want to see Callahan go in the offseason to another team without getting anything in return, so a deal was made for one of the best scorers in the NHL in Martin St. Louis.
Short term, this benefits the Rangers greatly. Despite acquisitions of Brad Richards and Rick Nash in previous years, the Rangers still have had great difficultly scoring. St. Louis will bring the Rangers another prolific scorer who can bolster their top offensive lines, and the chemistry he has with former teammate Richards will certainly be an asset. For the Lightning, Callahan will be a mere rental if they don’t sign him back. Despite the upside Callahan brings from a grit and penalty killing standpoint, a swap for one of the best scorers in the league to an at best second line forward who is strong on the penalty kill is clearly in favor of the Rangers.
Where the Lightning win in this deal, though, is in the long term. St. Louis is a great scorer, but he is 38 going on 39 years old in June and only has one year remaining on his current contract. Unless St. Louis has a career like Jaromir Jagr or Marin Brodeur and plays well into his 40s, the Rangers will not get value in this deal in the long term. The Lightning acquire two high draft picks over the next two years, and only had to give up a player who could potentially retire in a season. Even if Callahan doesn’t resign with Tampa Bay, the long term gains the Lightning will acquire as a result of gaining those picks will be far greater than the long term gains St. Louis brings to the Rangers, if any at all.
The conditions of the picks also benefit the Lightning greatly. If the Rangers are successful and go to the Eastern Conference finals, Tampa Bay is rewarded by upgrading the now second-round pick they are acquiring from the Rangers to a first-round one in this year’s draft. Also, if Callahan tries to ask for a long term deal for a huge amount of money the Lighting most likely won’t resign him, which would mean that the Rangers don’t gain any picks at all as a result of this trade, just St. Louis.
Now, could the Rangers resign Callahan if he tests free agency this year and can’t find another team to resign him at the value he is looking for? Certainly, but that most likely will not happen. As it stands now, this trade heavily favors the Lightning in the long term, and could potentially only benefit the Rangers for the next year.