The Rangers were close to re-signing captainRyan Callahan, but apparently not close enough, and probably not even thrilled with the best offer they had put forward for six years and more than $6 million.
So they consummated a deal for a player they had targeted for a while, a soon-to-be 39-year-old Martin St. Louis, who despite his size and age immediately becomes the Rangers’ best forward. St. Louis is signed for next season at a manageable cap hit of $5.625 million.
St. Louis was attempting to get to New York in time for tonight’s game against Toronto.
In addition to Callahan, the Rangers surrender a first-round pick in 2015 and a conditional second-rounder in 2014. If the Rangers reach the conference finals. If Tampa Bay re-signed Callahan, who is due to be an unrestricted free agent July 1, the Rangers get Tampa Bay’s second-rounder in 2015 and the Lightning gets the Rangers’ seventh-round pick in 2015.
St. Louis asked to be traded after Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman originally did not pick him to play on Team Canada in the Olympics (St. Louis eventually replaced injured Tampa teammate Steven Stamkos, but played sparingly). He also said he would only accept a trade to the Rangers, with his off-season home in nearby Greenwich, Conn.
St. Louis and former Lightning teammate Brad Richards worked out with other NHLers, including Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick, in Connecticut during the off-season. Richards and St. Louis, who won a Cup together with Tampa Bay, will be reunited, though it could be brief. Richards is very likely to be bought out after this season because of the hefty cap-recapture penalties that could cripple the Rangers when Richards retires.
The Rangers refused to negotiate a seven-year contract that Callahan originally sought, at a cost of more than $6.5M per, considering his injury history and the way he plays a big man’s game in a small body. Also his offensive numbers had been dropping. But when he dropped to six years, and to a lower salary number, the sides got closer. In the end, the Rangers felt they were better off not signing Callahan, and figured it would be much better to get something in return rather than let him walk away for nothing in July.
It is widely believed that Buffalo, near his hometown of Rochester, will be willing to go to seven years for Callahan in free agency.
Callahan participated in the Rangers’ morning skate today but refused to talk to reporters following the practice. Then, as the lockerroom was cleared, the trade news broke. His teammates, who expressed hope that Callahan would not be traded, appeared to be shocked and were not available for comment. Also, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, who normally addresses the media following a morning skate, chose to wait until after the deadline to do so.
I believe that Marc Staal will be the next Rangers captain, with Dan Girardi getting an “A” and, if Richards is indeed bought out, either St. Louis or Ryan McDonagh getting the other “A.”