NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Ryan Callahan couldn’t find common ground on a new contract with the New York Rangers, and now he’s bound for Tampa Bay.
The Rangers completed a deal just before noon Wednesday that sent their captain to the Lightning for veteran forward Martin St. Louis, the team announced ahead of the 3 p.m. trading deadline.
New York also gave up two draft picks — a conditional second-rounder this year and a first-round selection in 2015. The 2014 pick will become a first-rounder if the Rangers make it to the Eastern Conference finals.
In addition, if Callahan re-signs with Tampa Bay, the teams will swap picks, with New York getting Tampa’s 2015 second-rounder in exchange for the Rangers’ seventh-rounder.
Callahan, 28, is moving on after playing his entire eight-year career with the Rangers. He had 11 goals and 25 points this season.
“I truly thought that we’d work something out that worked for both sides. I said all along going through this that I wanted to stay there, and I wanted to get a deal done, and that was the truth,” Callahan told TSN. “It’s part of the business that, unfortunately, you have to deal with. We couldn’t find a deal that worked for both sides.
“So, I part ways with New York. I have nothing but great things to say for that organization. Everybody has been great to me. I have lifelong friends that are within the organization and teammates I’ve played with. I have nothing but great things to say about the Rangers,” Callahan added.
Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman said he was happy to have the impending unrestricted free agent.
“The Lightning are very excited to have Ryan Callahan join the organization and help us in our quest to make the playoffs,” Yzerman said. “Ryan is an outstanding player and leader who we look forward to seeing on the ice tomorrow night.”
Callahan was seeking a long-term contract extension but apparently wasn’t able to close the gap with the Blueshirts. He lowered his price to six years at around $39 million, while New York’s latest offer was for six years at $36 million, and neither side seemed willing to budge further, according to the New York Post.
He said he hasn’t ruled out re-signing with Tampa Bay.
“Right now you just get down there and get settled and then get used to my surroundings. Once that happens, I’m open to anything,” Callahan said. “If that’s contract talks, it is. If not, then we see what happens in July.
“I’m extremely excited. I’m going to a great organization. Great owners, great GM. I’ve heard nothing but good things from players that have played there. Like you said, they’re in the playoff hunt, too, which is big. I’m excited to get down to Tampa and get going,” he added.
St. Louis, 38, who reportedly requested a trade to the Rangers, is under contract through next season and will wear No. 26. He is expected to be in the lineup Wednesday night when the Rangers take on Toronto at Madison Square Garden.
“I’m very happy and excited to have Martin St. Louis with us. Another Frenchman,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said Wednesday evening. “Obviously, he’s an elite player, elite skill level, great leader and very confident he’ll fit in real well with this group. We’re adding a player that has more of an offensive capability. I really believe that this makes us a better team.”
The 5-foot-8, 183-pound winger has 29 goals and 61 points on the season. St. Louis won his second Art Ross Trophy, given to the league’s top scorer, last season.
A six-time All-Star, St. Louis has 369 goals and 973 points during his 15-year career.
“There’s a lot of contenders right now. If you look around the league right now, it’s real close; and where we sit right now it’s real close. Hopefully this is going to put us over the edge, make us a little closer to achieving our goal,” Rangers GM Glen Sather said. “It’s not often you get the chance to acquire a player like Marty St. Louis, who is a dynamic player. He’s in tremendous shape. Everything I’ve been told about him is that he’s a dynamic specimen as far as his conditioning is concerned. He’s worked very hard at it. He’s always one of the hardest working guys every team he’s been on. I think he’s going to be an inspiration to everybody on our club.”
WFAN’s Boomer Esiason reported the possibility of the teams swapping captains late last month. The speculation was met with some resistance, most notably from Lightning co-founder and radio broadcaster Phil Esposito, who unleashed a profanity-laced rant about the scenario during an online sports-talk show.
The Rangers signed defenseman Dan Girardi to a six-year, $33 million extension last week.
In a minor move made just before the deadline the Rangers acquired defenseman Raphael Diaz from Vancouver for a fifth-round pick in 2015.
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