Callahan, Lightning contract talks in ‘critical stage’

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Talks between Ryan Callahan and the Tampa Bay Lightning are getting a bit trickier as time ticks away towards July 1.

Callahan’s agent, Steve Bartlett, tells Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times negotiations with the team are tightening up as time whittles away towards his client becoming an unrestricted free agent.

“It’s at a critical stage where we have to find a way to close the gap,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett added that the door between the two sides won’t be closed and that even if talks go past July 1 the Lightning will have a shot at re-signing the 29-year-old forward.

That said, things get dicier starting on Wednesday when other teams can start talking with potential free agents. As for the Lightning, Callahan likes where the team is at and is headed, but unless a deal can get worked out that might not mean quite so much.

Callahan reportedly sought a seven-year, $42 million deal from the New York Rangers but reportedly brought those demands down before he was traded to Tampa Bay for Martin St. Louis. He had 17 goals and 36 points in 65 games with the Rangers and Lightning last season.