Editors note: I asked Joe Fortunato and Mike Murphy at Blueshirt Banter to fill us in a bit on Ryan Callahan and give us some perspective from where they stand. The following was written by Murph in response. -- JF
If Henrik Lundqvist has been the backbone of the post-lockout Rangers, Ryan Callahan has been the team's heart and soul. Callahan was named the captain of the New York Rangers on October 26th, 2011 at the age of 26. He was the first native of New York State to be named the team's captain and he wore the "C" on his sweater very well. Callahan is a dogged forechecker and is renowned for his shot blocking and body checking. His best season was in 2011-12 where he put up a line of 29-25-54 in 76 games. It's important to point out that Callahan has never played a full season in his NHL career (although he did come close in 2008-09) because he is often in and out of the lineup because of his style of play. It can be maddening to see Callahan limp off the ice after blocking a big shot or finishing what seems like a pointless hit, but that is the way he plays the game. He never takes a shift off and he inspires, energizes, and galvanizes his teammates because of it.
What will Ryan Callahan give the Tampa Bay Lightning? Callahan will never be the biggest, fastest, strongest, or most talented player on the ice but he will almost certainly be the player that works the hardest and does what is necessary to get his team two points on any given night. He shows some flashes of skill and a good ability to finish but most of his goal scoring comes from around the net with screens, deflections, and garbage goals. His even strength scoring is nothing to write home about but he does have a knack for scoring on the man advantage because of his willingness to get to the nasty areas of the ice and make things happen while taking crosschecks to the back. He was out of the lineup for long stretches this season with the Rangers but while he was in the lineup he was seldom used on the power play, getting 1:48 TOI/G on the man advantage (tied for 6th among Rangers forwards with former Bolt Benoit Pouliot). Perhaps some time on the Bolts power play, maybe with that Stamkos feller you folks got, will spark his game and get him scoring.
It looks like the reason Glen Sather decided to move Callahan came down to Callahan (and his agent) wanting a no trade or no movement clause. Callahan supposedly asked for 8 years at $7.5 million this summer (yes, those numbers are real) but was talked down hours before being dealt to 6 years at around $6.25 million. Sather and the Rangers brass were prepared to offer him $36 million over 6 years and it appears that the gap of $200-$250k and Callahan demanding a no trade clause spelled the end of his time as a New York Ranger.
I am sure you Tampa fans must be feeling a bit betrayed and awkward seeing someone as beloved as Martin St. Louis leave town in the manner that he left town but I assure you, if any fanbase can sympathize with you it is ironically the New York Rangers fanbase. Callahan was really and truly loved in New York. As I'm typing this up for John I keep glancing up at the Callahan vintage jersey I have hanging on my closet door. It's one of the first things I see every day... I doubt I will be taking it down anytime soon. It just wouldn't feel right. It's more or less unprecedented to swap captains on deadline day or even swap two players that are so beloved by their respective fanbases but it happened. It really happened. It's strange isn't it?
I know that there is a lot of talk about Callahan simply being a rental for the Lightning, and perhaps he will be, but I encourage you to enjoy him while you have him. You will almost certainly find yourselves saying things like, "Marty could have made that pass," or, "Marty would have buried that one," but getting Callahan, a 1st round pick in 2015, and a conditional 2nd in 2014 (that could become a 1st round pick) for Marty is a pretty good haul, especially when you consider that Yzerman had only one team to negotiate with. Callahan cannot and will not replace Martin St. Louis on the ice, in the locker room, or in your hearts but after he has a shift on the penalty kill where he blocks two or three shots from the point and chips the puck out of the zone from his back to get his teammates a desperately needed line change you'll understand a different kind of love. A Cally kind of love.
Good luck with the rest of the season and the playoff hunt guys and best of luck with the draft picks and Ryan Callahan. Take care of him; we'll be sure to do the same with Marty.