Ryan Callahan extension reportedly 'imminent'

Mike Carlson

With just minutes remaining until Ryan Callahan could begin speaking to other teams, the Tampa Bay Lightning are reportedly about to sign the 29-year old winger to a long-term contract extension.

Per Chris Johnston of Sportsnet:

Sportsnet hasn't reported the exact details of the contract, but did note this:

While the precise terms of the extension weren't immediately available, it is believed to be in excess of five years and worth as much as $5.5-million per season.

So that's five or more years and up to $5.5 million if the wording there is 100% accurate.

If $5.5/5 years ends up being accurate, or at least close, that's a lot better than the deal he was asking the New York Rangers for, and not nearly as crippling as an extension might have been.

Still, the reasons why this might be a mistake have been laid out already. It seems the Lightning are comfortable signing a 29-year old fringe top-6 winger already declining to a long-term extension that will take upwards of 7.5% of a 70 million dollar cap in spite of the many red flags suggesting doing so is not the best course of action.

The move may indicate other forthcoming moves for the Lightning, who will certainly need to free up cap space if this Callahan deal goes through. With just under $14 million in cap space not counting Callahan, the Lightning will need more room to make acquisitions on defense (still just four healthy NHL D signed for 2014-15) and to sign the handful of RFAs that don't yet have contracts (Richard Panik, J.T. Brown, Andrej Sustr, Keith Aulie, Mark Barberio) as well as to sign a UFA goaltender to back up Ben Bishop having chosen not to qualify Anders Lindback.

The Lightning will also be sending a 2015 2nd round pick to the Rangers, as per the condition of the Martin St. Louis trade. The Rangers will send back a 7th round pick.

Ryan Callahan has shown himself to be a tremendous leader both on and off the ice and he plays an admirable, simple and effective physical game. But I keep going back to my sentiments from earlier this off season:

In a salary cap NHL, it's unwise to commit so much to a player who will not contribute a substantial amount of points or puck possession ability and is likely to decline severely over the course of the deal he signs.

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