Ryan Callahan is a great hockey player.
Ryan Callahan is a great teammate.
Ryan Callahan is a great leader.
Ryan Callahan was the Captain of the New York Rangers.
That last one seems a little off. A lot of people are still wondering why Callahan is not the current captain of the Rangers and why Glen Sather opted to trade his team’s beloved captain rather than lock him up for 6 more years and all but guarantee he would spend his entire professional career with one franchise. Believe it or not, there are a number of reasons that may each have been overlooked individually. Added together, they created the perfect storm.
1) The New York Rangers
The Rangers are at a point where they need to win and they need to do it soon. The cornerstones of their team are almost all in the prime of their careers: Henrik Lundqvist is 32, Dan Girardi is 29, Rick Nash is 29, and Marc Staal is 27. Callahan turns 29 in just over a week and has never been known as a durable player. Marty St. Louis may be almost 10 years older than Callahan, but he’s clearly the better player today. Will that be the case in 5 years? Doubtful, but this team needs to win, and they need to win in the next 3 years.
In the pre-salary cap era, we wouldn’t even be talking about this. Ryan Callahan would get every penny he wants and still be a Ranger. End of story. With Callahan’s agent demanding a 6 year deal worth more than $6 million per year, the dollars just didn’t add up. Is Callahan a great player, leader, teammate? Yes. Is he worthy of that salary and cap hit? No way! Look at some comparable players: David Backes makes $4.5m, Mike Richards makes $5.75m, Jonathan Toews makes $6.3m. Toews’ $6.3m the closest figure of the group to the $6.25m Callahan was reportedly willing to accept from the Rangers. As an NHL GM, there’s no way you can spend on that comparable and justify it. Toews has nearly 180 more points in just 20 more career games than Callahan. In fact, Toews is better than Callahan in every single scoring stat. Shorthanded points too? 17 to 12 in favor of Toews. Playoffs? 24 points in 59 games for Callahan. 64 points in 75 games (oh, and a couple of Stanley Cup rings) for Toews. There’s simply no comparison, and THAT is the kind of money Callahan is seeking.
3) Scott Gomez, Wade Redden, Chris Drury, and friends
Where do we start? Glen Sather has been the king of handing out albatross contracts. The only things that have saved him to date are Bob Gainey (thanks again for Ryan McDonagh in that Gomez deal) and being able to bury Redden in the AHL for years. I actually believe he’s learned his lesson and knows he won’t have any outs on the horizon with the rules of the new CBA being extremely restrictive in that regard.
All of this is to say: there are more than 6,250,000 reasons why Ryan Callahan’s career with the New York Rangers is over and why it was the right move for the organization.