What do the New York Rangers do about pending unrestricted free agent Ryan Callahan?
On the one hand, he’s their captain. A classic heart-and-soul leader who scores goals, hits, and blocks shots. Based on that alone, they should lock him up as long as possible.
Except the poor guy just can’t stay healthy. His latest injury is an MCL sprain that will keep him out 4-6 weeks. Last season, he “separated his shoulder eight or nine times,” according to general manager Glen Sather.
And that’s not all. Far from it:
It almost seems unfair to hold the above against him. The way he plays (i.e. with little regard for his own health, putting the team first) is a major contributor to that lengthy injury log. But the list of ailments can’t be ignored either. A player is only good to a team when he’s healthy and able to play. Otherwise he’s a financial burden.
Callahan is 28 years old. The maximum term he could sign with the Rangers is eight years. Anywhere else it would be seven. And with the salary cap expected to go up, you can bet at least one team out there will make a serious run at him, if he doesn’t re-sign with New York first. (Nathan Horton had a pretty lengthy injury log. Didn’t stop Columbus from giving him $37.1 million over seven.)
“This is where I want to be, obviously,” Callahan said recently, per the New York Post. “But like I said, I’m not going to air it out in the media about my contract and what’s going on. Just go about my business on the ice, and that stuff takes care of itself.”
Related: With Lundqvist deal done, Sather faces tough questions
The Florida Panthers have had no problem giving Roberto Luongo the odd night off this season. That’s because Al Montoya has been one of the best backups in the league.
Montoya (8-2-1, .931) will get the call tonight in Detroit, with Luongo (23-13-5, .930) expected to start tomorrow in Buffalo.
The Panthers have the highest team save percentage in the NHL, at .926 (which includes empty-net goals).
“They both give us a chance to win every night,” Panthers d-man Brian Campbell told the Miami Herald recently. “Both make huge saves for us at times. You need consistent saves every night and they both bring it. Montoya gets put into a tough spot a lot of times and nothing seems to change.”
Not good news for the St. Louis Blues — the club announced this morning that defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has been placed on injured reserve with a right-knee injury. He’ll be re-evaluated in three weeks.
Pietrangelo suffered the injury Saturday in a knee-on-knee collision with Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle.
Based on the timeline provided, the Blues will be without their leader in average ice time (26:40) until at least the end of the month. St. Louis plays 10 times between now and Feb. 29, which also happens to be the trade deadline.
The big question, of course, is whether Pietrangelo will be ready to go upon re-evaluation.
The first day of the playoffs is April 13.
Related: Armstrong wants Blues to get healthy before any trades are made
Alain Vigneault took another shot at the NHL’s Department of Player Safety today.
This time, the Rangers head coach was upset about the lack of supplementary discipline for Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds in the wake of Saturday’s altercation with New York captain Ryan McDonagh.
“An All-Star player gets sucker-punched, goes down,” Vigneault said, per The Record. “I wonder if that’s (Sidney) Crosby, what happens? What are the consequences? And, on top of that, a player breaks his stick, throws it at the referees. In the rulebook, that’s automatic. It’s three games. Nothing happens. It’s not even on the sheet after the game.”
Simmonds’ punch left McDonagh concussed and unable to play tonight versus New Jersey, with no timetable for his return.
Earlier this season, Vigneault voiced his frustration with the league after Rangers center Derek Stepan suffered broken ribs in Boston on a hit from Bruins forward Matt Beleskey.
Vigneault felt the hit was late.
“I remember Aaron Rome in this building, .6 seconds late, getting suspended four games in the Stanley Cup Final,” the former Vancouver Canucks coach said, recalling the contentious 2011 final.
Beleskey was not suspended.
Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, and Panthers center Vincent Trocheck have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.
From the NHL:
Crosby led the League in goals and points (5-3-8) in three games as the Penguins (26-18-7, 59 points) earned four of a possible six points to secure the second Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference.
Karlsson led the League in assists and ranked second in points (0-7-7) in three games as the Senators (24-23-6, 54 points) won one of three starts for the week.
Trocheck notched six points (3-3—6) in three games, helping the Panthers (31-15-6, 68 points) widen their lead atop the Atlantic Division to six points.
Related: Red-hot Crosby could make Pens a flawed (but dangerous) dark horse