New York Rangers captain Ryan Callahan told reporters Friday night that his heart is with the team, but he might not be for much longer.
Adding fuel to the growing trade rumors surrounding him is an ESPN report that Callahan’s agent can now negotiate directly with other teams. That would give them a chance to gather information on the pending unrestricted free agent before making a bid to the Rangers.
There’s been speculation that the Callahan might end up in St. Louis in a deal involving forward Chris Stewart, but the Columbus Blue Jackets are also believed to be in the mix.
Meanwhile, Callahan is reportedly seeking a contract in the range of $42 million over seven years. The Rangers are believed to be bulking at the length of that deal based on the fear that he might not be durable enough to play at his current level through his early-to-mid 30s.
The Rangers might instead move to trade the physical forward quickly to get something done before the Olympic break. That would prevent the situation from being complicated by an injury either during or in the immediate aftermath of the Winter Games.
All that being said, the Rangers might still opt to keep him and these rumors could be killed in the coming days by an announcement that Callahan and New York have agreed to terms. After all, he’s still the captain of a team positioned to compete in the playoffs. It would be a big risk to part ways with him now.
It’s going to be interesting to see if Hammond can replicate the success he had last season, when he came out of nowhere to go 20-1-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage, and finish seventh in Vezina voting.