The New York Rangers are headed to the Stanley Cup Final, which is not fun to say. Or stay up to watch. Or see in the repetitive dumb back page headlines out of New York. All without an Official Captain.
Could Ryan Callahan return to New York?
The Islanders’ group of forwards is looking at an upgrade, not an overhaul. With rampant rumors about which kids could stay up (Nelson, Strome) or who is on the outs (Bailey, Grabner), finding the correct winger to play alongside John Tavares remains the clearest priority to be addressed. Frans Nielsen is hitting peak value both as a player and an asset, and could be the key to landing the top-pairing defenseman the team desperately needs. Garth Snow nearly pulled the trigger on a Frans/Goalie swap at the deadline but declined. Hindsight is 20/20, and that was a great decision. Michael Grabner has become more miss than hit, but could fit in with a more established team. Josh Bailey…five rolls of tape and a full water bottle.
Removing two experienced forwards will not help the kids develop, nor will it alleviate the pressure off Tavares and Okposo. So, what about that ex-Ranger?
The first pure captain-for-captain trade in the NHL has sent France St. Louis’ little boy to the Final. It also banished a Ranger favorite to the Sunshine State over a petty argument, FOR a guy who wanted out over petty differences. Ryan Callahan, former Ranger captain, was swept out of the first round and is now awaiting a new contract, be it from his current Tampa employer or someone new. He could return to (well, stay in, more or less) New York with “The Other NY Team.” It would be like Curtis Granderson going from the Bronx to Queens, but with exponentially less suck. Garth’s pitch is simple: “Ryan, I know you love New York. Want to prove Sather wrong, want to shove that trade back in his face? Come to Brooklyn*. We won’t trade you for a cry baby. We’ll take you in and give you a home. You, Johnny, and Kyle will rule this city. How much do you want? (Keep it reasonable, please.)”
Callahan would add veteran presence and about 50pts a season riding Tavares’ right side. Though not the best PPG, his maturity and grit would serve the top two lines quite well. He blocks shots like Andrew MacDonald, but can back that up with smart transitional play. A “character guy” through and through, he can be a leader without the pressure of the ‘C’. Plus,what harm can be done by adding an American Olympian? America sells, and this is New York we’re talking about.
Callahan will cost a bit more than Grabner, which is fine as long as Garth fully commits to the “I will spend (correctly) to fix this team.” A five year deal for $26M ($5.2M, AAV) should do the trick, as Callahan was making $4.825M last season (a cap hit of $4.275). A modest bump in pay to return to New York and make a meaningful contribution.
Serious play in free agency with a side of vengeance? Sounds like a plan.
Good articles…Couple of points though. Just because we Callahan is a UFA does not mean that Garth should think about shopping Grabner and Frans. Frans is elite at his position and who ever plays on his line fairs better, point production wise and possession wise. Grabner is also a beast when it comes to 5v5 and defensive play. His numbers may be a bit up and down, but the guy fits seamlessly into a 3rd line role where he can be productive no matter the line mates. Also the loss of their PK skills would be hurt the team tremendously.
Bailey, fine, he is a moveable.
Callahan, would be a nice addition to the middle 6, not sure I would put him on a line with JT, but rather a line with Frans and Grabner/Bailey (assuming he stays). This would create an elite shut down line that can put up points and drive the play.
Thanks for the article. GH
Acquiring Callahan and shopping Nielsen/Grabner are mutually exclusive events, though I agree that you don’t have to make one move for the other. I mentioned them solely based on speculation and conjecture coming from the trade deadline.
Grabner – Nielsen – Callahan would be a tremendous 3rd line. Bailey…he doesn’t bump anything up to “elite.” His days are over. What he could fetch is anyone’s guess as his best value was the day he was drafted.