Hartnett: Lightning Would Be Crazy To Deal St. Louis For Callahan Straight-Up
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By Sean Hartnett
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WFAN host Boomer Esiason revealed on Monday’s edition of “The Boomer and Carton Show” that he was informed of the Rangers offering captain Ryan Callahan to Tampa Bay for Lightning captain Martin St. Louis in a one-for-one swap.
According to Esiason, “the only reason this deal wouldn’t go through is if somebody gets cold feet or somebody lowers their contract demands,” adding the potential deal could also involve the Rangers receiving a conditional draft pick based upon whether Callahan signs an extension with the Lightning.
With 10 days remaining before the March 5 trade deadline, Callahan’s time with the Rangers could be coming to an end. Rangers general manager Glen Sather and Callahan’s representative, Stephen Bartlett, have remained far apart in negotiating a long-term contract extension. Callahan is understood to be seeking a seven-year contract above $6.5 million per year.
Callahan will not have any influence over where he lands once Sather deems negotiations fruitless. At that point, Sather will move his captain to a team offering a trade that meets his desires.
Sather wants a proven goal-scorer who can boost the Rangers’ firepower and Stanley Cup chances. St. Louis fits all the criteria of what Sather is looking for. He’s the reigning Art Ross Trophy winner, a renowned playoff performer and will cost $5.625 million in average annual value in 2014-15.
Even at 38, St. Louis has not shown any signs of decline. Through 58 games this season, he has 56 points. His still possesses jet-like speed and remains at the top of his game due to his incredible workout regimen.
A Callahan-for-St. Louis swap makes sense for Sather, but shouldn’t for Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman.
Yzerman would receive a tremendous amount of heat from Lightning fans if he breaks up the successful partnership between St. Louis and superstar Steven Stamkos on the top line. Stamkos broke his right leg in November, but is very close to returning to the lineup.
It’s also doubtful that Yzerman is enamored with Callahan to the point that he would be willing meet Callahan’s asking price to keep him from reaching unrestricted free agency.
Even though Callahan is 10 years younger than St. Louis, it would likely take more than Callahan alone to pry St. Louis from the Lightning. It is a widely viewed perception that Callahan is a rental player, whose ultimate desire is to command the highest deal possible in free agency.
In addition to Callahan, Yzerman could demand one or more NHL talents, highly-rated prospects and/or draft picks from the Rangers. That kind of package might be too much for Sather to part with for a 38-year-old.
DOES ST. LOUIS WANT OUT OF TAMPA?
On Sunday night, Sportnet’s Nick Kypreos tweeted that St. Louis requested a trade after Yzerman, who also serves as Team Canada GM, initially left St. Louis off the Canadian Olympic team.
That roster announcement took place back on Jan. 7, and the situation has changed significantly since. St. Louis replaced Stamkos on Canada’s roster on Feb. 6 and helped Canada earn gold in Sochi in a limited role.
It’s entirely possible that winning gold has smoothed things over between St. Louis and Yzerman.
If St. Louis still wants out of Tampa Bay, New York would be an ideal landing spot. St. Louis owns a home in Greenwich, Conn., and a trade to the Rangers would reunite him with former Lightning teammate Brad Richards.
Together, Richards and St. Louis won the Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004. Richards won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP, while St. Louis won the Hart Trophy, Art Ross Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Award that season.
Could they join forces in New York?
St. Louis has a full no-movement clause that allows him to accept or veto any trade. If St. Louis is intent on saying goodbye to the Lightning and Yzerman is willing to part with him before the trade deadline, he could push Yzerman into accepting a lesser deal if his desire is to join the Rangers.
Follow Sean on Twitter at @HartnettHockey.
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