UFA of the Day: Ryan Callahan

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Check PHT each weekday for the first four weeks of June for a new pending unrestricted free agent of the day. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

Ryan Callahan

If Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has his way, Ryan Callahan will never reach the free agent market. The former New York Rangers captain was dealt to Tampa Bay on March 5 and his blend of grit and skill proved to be a nice fit in Tampa Bay. He had six goals and 11 points in 20 games after the trade, giving him 36 points in 65 contests overall in 2013-14.

The 29-year-old forward is typically good for over 40 points and 200 hits provided he stays relatively healthy. He’s only missed 26 contests over the last three campaigns with the majority of his time on the sidelines coming this season. However, the physical edge that he plays with and body-sacrificing mentality might lead to teams to worry about his long-term health, especially seeing as he’s likely to demand a long-term contract that will take him into his mid-30s.

Which brings us to the heart of the problem with Callahan: His asking price. Even after lowering it, Callahan was reportedly seeking a six-year deal worth $6.5 million to $6.75 million annually in early March.

It was his contract demands that likely motivated the Rangers to trade him in the first place and it might similarly keep Tampa Bay from re-signing him.

Perhaps Callahan will take a different approach with Tampa Bay, but his agent, Steve Bartlett, has already said that it would be tempting to wait to see what the market’s like on July 1.

Keep in mind that while his demands might seem high, teams have shown a willingness to pay big for capable two-way forwards. After all, David Clarkson is getting ready for the second season of his seven-year, $36.75 million deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs.