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.