The Tampa Bay Lightning have made it clear they want to re-sign Ryan Callahan, and Callahan has said he’s enjoyed his time with the Bolts.
But will any of that outweigh the potential of free agency?
“There’s always the temptation of July 1st,” Callahan’s agent, Steve Bartlett, told the Tampa Tribune. “You don’t get that many times in your career, especially at the peak of your career.
“Those are what you have to balance, the positive and all the good things he knows about Tampa, and what is his right, you have the opportunity to at least hear other people. That doesn’t mean Tampa wouldn’t be his first choice.”
Callahan, 29, should have a number of suitors if he does go to July 1. A Rochester native, he’s already been linked to a potential hometown return to Buffalo, and it’s possible a team with the requisite salary cap space could make a splash and pay Callahan the reported $45.5-$49 million he was seeking on a new deal.
Don’t forget that, despite the fact he’s not an offensive superstar, Callahan does carry some clout. He’s a two-time U.S. Olympian and captained one of the NHL’s most storied franchises (his predecessors in New York? Chris Drury, Jaromir Jagr, Mark Messier and Brian Leetch.)
He also brings a physical, two-way game to the table — Callahan finished fourth in Selke voting in 2012 — and that’s a far cry from some of the other big-name forwards projected to be available this summer, like Marian Gaborik, Thomas Vanek and Mike Cammalleri.
And, hey, let’s be real… few players pass up a crack at having teams bid for their services. We saw it last year with the likes of Valtteri Filppula, David Clarkson and Ryane Clowe, all of whom cashed in during free agency.
In light of this, it’s no surprise Bartlett can’t rule out his client going to market — even though both he and Callahan seem to like Tampa Bay.
“I have no doubt that (a lot) of teams will have interest in Ryan Callahan,” Bartlett said. “But, at the same time, I can say Tampa made a very good case for itself.”