When the final papers for possible salary arbitration hearings were filed, it looked like the New York Rangers would be the NHL team with the biggest headaches. As it turns out, the team managed to lock up every player whose on-ice qualities would have been put on trial, as they reportedly came to terms with Ryan Callahan on a three-year contract extension today.
Much like fellow Rangers forward (and frequent linemate) Brandon Dubinsky, Callahan agreed to a deal a day before his hearing was scheduled. The terms of that three-year deal haven’t been made official yet, but Newsday’s Arthur Staple reports that Callahan’s agent confirmed that it’s worth “just under” $13 million. Update: Kevin Allen reports that Callahan’s salary will be $4 million in 2011-12 and 12-13 and $4.85 million in 13-14. That would his overall contract $12.85 million and his cap hit a bit more than $4.28 million per year.
With their last restricted free agent out of the way, Rangers fans should rejoice. Callahan seems like a strong contender to become the Rangers’ next captain because of his mixture of grit and scoring ability.
Callahan notched career highs in goals (23), assists (25) and points (48) even though he only played in 60 games in 2010-11. It’s usually tough to gauge how well a player can live up to a contract year – especially one in which that player shows a higher offensive ceiling that he ever had before – but the good news is that Callahan is a productive player even when he’s not lighting up the scoreboard.
His career-high 2010-11 shooting percentage (12.8) probably won’t be sustainable during the next three years, but the biggest worry might be that his aggressive style might lead to more injuries. Perhaps he needs to allow less important Rangers forwards to block some shots, at least; he broke his hand and ankle last season doing just that. The ankle injury forced him to miss the end of the Rangers’ push toward a playoff spot as well as their first round series against the Washington Capitals.
That being said, Callahan’s willingness to put his body on the line could make him the hockey equivalent to a military commander who fights in the front lines. We’ll see if he gets the actual captain’s “C” on his jersey now or later, but my guess is that many players and fans already consider him the leader of that team.
As if Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final couldn’t get any more dramatic, it has — Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos, who hasn’t played since Mar. 31, will make his playoff debut against the Penguins tonight.
Stamkos underwent vascular surgery in early April to correct a blood clotting issue, and has remained on blood thinners ever since. While there’s been no confirmation he’s off medication, he did tell Sportsnet he’d be able to return to the lineup once he was.
Stamkos reiterated that he’s still on the same prescription of blood thinners he was given earlier this month. He takes a 12-hour dosage, twice a day, and it has been suggested to him that once he is cleared to stop taking the medication, Stamkos conceivably could return to the Lightning lineup almost immediately.
That’s why I’m trying to stay in shape,” he said.
Per NHL.com, Stamkos took the warmup and participated in line rushes centering Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan.
It’s been exactly eight weeks since Stamkos played his last game. At the time of his diagnosis, the Lightning said his timetable for recovery was 1-3 months.
To say his return will be a boost is a major understatement. Aside from the emotional factor, Stamkos led the Bolts in goals this year, with 36, and would presumably spark a power play that’s gone just 2-for-12 in the series.
Steve Stamkos took the team bus to tonight’s Eastern Conference Game 7 in Pittsburgh. As TVA noted, it was the first time he’s arrived early for a game in these playoffs.
In his pregame presser, Bolts head coach Jon Cooper refused to answer any questions about Stamkos’ availability.
And then Stamkos took the warmup.
As such, the drama surrounding Tampa Bay’s captain has reached an all-time high. Stamkos, who’s been out of the lineup since early April due to blood clots, looks as though he’s on the verge of an emotional comeback as the Lightning try to win an ECF Game 7 — on the road — for a second consecutive season.
“If Stamkos is in the lineup, it’s our best foot forward,” Cooper said. “If he’s not in the lineup, it’s because he wasn’t eligible to play.”
No word if No. 91 is still on the blood thinning medication he’s been taking since undergoing vascular surgery on Apr. 4.
EDINA, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise has been rehabilitating his back injury without surgery, putting him on track to be at full strength by September.
Parise said Thursday he’s “happy with the way everything’s going.” He said he’s been able to work out as he normally does during the summer, despite missing the playoffs because of the injury.
Parise said there’s “no question” he’ll be ready to play for Team USA in the World Cup of Hockey tournament.
Parise joined teammates Erik Haula, Jason Pominville, Nate Prosser, Jared Spurgeon and Jason Zucker at an autograph signing to raise money for people affected by the wildfires in Alberta. The parents of Spurgeon’s wife, Danielle, lost their home to a fire in the Edmonton area.