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.