For much of the last few weeks, New York Rangers defenseman and soon to be unrestricted free agent Dan Girardi has been a constant in the increasing NHL trade rumors circuit. But now according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post and Pierre Lebrun of ESPN.com and TSN his teammate and captain Ryan Callahan – who is also an unrestricted free agent on July 1 – is being shopped as well. Both Brooks and Lebrun reported that contract talks for both Girardi and the Rangers’ heart and soul forward Callahan have hit a wall and Rangers general manager Glen Sather is fielding offers for both so they don’t end up leaving the Rangers with nothing if and they walk via free agency.
According to Brooks, Callahan is seeking a seven-year deal worth $42 million. That may sound like a bit much for a player who has never cracked the 30-goal plateau but as Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal pointed out on Twitter:
“If Ryan Callahan looking for 7yr. $42 mil, that’s ballpark to fellow capt Dustin Brown‘s $5.875 cap hit, 8 yrs. Same players aren’t they?”
Not exactly the same Jim as Brown has cracked the 30-goal plateau and has a Stanley cup ring but close enough. Both players provide the intangibles that if you want to win a Cup you need to sometimes pay a bit extra for. And speaking of those intangibles, Sather already let some of them walk when he didn’t bring back Brandon Prust in the summer of 2012 and Prust signed a very affordable four-year, $10 million contract that pays him $2.5 million per season. Every one of Prust’s teammates will tell you he is a glue type player you need and they’re a better team with him than without him. In fact even his opponents agree as Bruins winger Shawn Thornton told me once: “that’s the kind of guy you need to help your skilled players play their game.” Prust has some skill himself as showed when he lit the lamp 15 times in the 2010-11 season with the Rangers.
Hopefully for the Rangers and their fans, Sather learned his lesson and also has a nice conversation with Kings GM Dean Lombardi so he can see that in today’s NHL you have to pay a little extra to win. Problem is and always has been that Sather seems to think you win with only star players as witnessed with the way he ran the team in the late nineties and early 2000’s.
It should be noted as well that Darren Dreger of TSN reported Wednesday night that the Rangers now feel more likely they can get Girardi signed.
–As I write this, I’m watching Girardi, Callahan and the Rangers battle the Islanders in the second NHL Stadium Series game at Yankee Stadium on NBC Sports Network. This is the fourth outdoor game this season with the Blackhawks and Penguins set to close the series off at Chicago Stadium March 1. The Senators and Canucks will play March 2 at GM Place in Vancouver in the sixth and final outdoor game of the season. When all of the Stadium Series games were announced I was critical of the league saying too many of these games would lose the uniqueness of what the Winter Classic brings. But honestly, I couldn’t wait to watch this game and can’t wait for the remaining two games. There are reports that they may trim it to four games next season with the Winter and Heritage Classics and then two Stadium Series games. The Capitals are set to host the 2015 Winter Classic at Nationals Stadium in Washington DC and if I’m the NHL I do the Flames and Oilers or Habs and Leafs for the Heritage and then the Avalanche-Red Wings at Coors Field and the Stars-Wild at Target field in Minneapolis.
–Yes they’ve lost their last two games and even if their fans won’t accept it, the rest of the NHL better. The Columbus Blue Jackets are for real. They had won eight straight games until their loss to the Sabres Saturday and Sergei Bobrovsky is looking more like the Vezina Trophy winner he was last season and the youth of the team like Ryan Johansen and Cam Atkinson as well as veteran Nathan Horton have this team making a playoff push. This is a team that top seeded teams need to be wary of. Stick tap Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Post Dispatch who right before this streak started predicted Bobrovsky and the BJ’s were about to make a run.
— Quote of the week and maybe this month has to go to Panthers goalie Tim Thomas who after getting lit up for six goals in a 6-2 loss to his former team the Bruins in Boston Tuesday night said:
“I think I might’ve enjoyed myself watching the State of the Union more. …No, probably not.”
And please enough with the Bruins fans saying Thomas should be suspended for his stick swing up high on Bruins forward Carl Soderberg. That’s how any goalie who wants to protect his crease and has pride should react when he’s run twice by the same player towards the end of a blowout. Bruins fans have short memories and forget they had no issues when Thomas did that as a Bruin.
–When Brad Marchand taunted the Vancouver bench with his team down 4-1 in an eventual 6-1 drubbing to the Canucks December 15, I along with many fans and reporters and even his head coach Claude Julien called him out for it. I even suggested maybe the Bruins explore trading the player who led them in goals last season. Actions such as that not only put him at risk of payback but his teammates too. They’re also, as Julien pointed out at the time, not what the team wants to represent. Well give Marchand credit as he has curbed his childish actions, walked the line of aggravating and dirty much better and been a goal-scoring machine. Marchand has eight goals and 14 points in 12 games this month, and is doing more of this now. Props to him for looking in the mirror and correcting his game.
–Marchand and the Bruins will try to get some revenge on their hated rivals the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night in Boston. The Canadiens beat the Bruins 2-1 back on December 5 and with the win moved into first place in the Atlantic Division. Things have changed for both teams since then as the Bruins are playing their best hockey of the season and the Habs have won just one of their last five and are in the midst of a firestorm in Montreal with fans calling for trades and firings. But a win over the Bruins could change all that. Problem is though, their last game, a 3-0 win over the Hurricanes was just another example of how they get most of their wins. If the Bruins can get to Carey Price Thursday night, the Habs are toast. As he goes, so go the Canadiens. But either way, a Bruins-Habs tilt is always must-watch hockey. Enjoy the best rivalry in the NHL.