Updates on Ryan Callahan, Chris Stewart and Matt Moulson plus the latest on the Maple Leafs, Kings, Canucks and more.
NEW YORK POST/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Larry Brooks reports Rangers management want captain Ryan Callahan’s future decided before the roster freeze (Feb 7 – 23) for the upcoming Sochi Olympics. GM Glen Sather is reportedly aggressively shopping Callahan, who is unwilling to move off his demand of a seven-year, $42 million contract. Brooks claims the Rangers would prefer a deal comparable to five-year, $30 million signed by Joe Pavelski with the San Jose Sharks.
Brooks and Pat Leonard reported sources claiming the Rangers have granted multiple clubs permission to speak with Callahan’s agent about a contract extension, which Callahan claimed was news to him. Brooks reports the St. Louis Blues have interest in Callahan while the Rangers are interested in Blues winger Chris Stewart, who has one year left on his contract at a cap hit of $4.15 million and could be better suited to the Rangers style of play than the grinding style preferred by Blues coach Ken Hitchcock.
STLTODAY.COM: Dan O’Neill also reported on the Rangers’ supposed interest in Stewart, noting the Blues have been less than thrilled with his recent performance, managing only two goals in his last 17 games. Neither GM Doug Armstrong or coach Ken Hitchcock would comment on the rumors.
ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun reports two Western Conference executives he texted believe the Rangers still want to re-sign Callahan and GM Glen Sather was merely calling around to give himself a “Plan B”. A source also claims Sather wouldn’t be adverse to moving Callahan to an Eastern Conference team. A Blues source declined to comment about the Rangers’ rumored interest in Stewart.
TSN.CA: LeBrun also mentioned the Columbus Blue Jackets could be worth watching in the Callahan hunt. Darren Dreger reports the Rangers will trade Callahan if he won’t soften his salary demand.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So it appears we’ve got a standoff. The Rangers want to re-sign Callahan but not for seven years. Callahan wants to re-sign but isn’t willing to budge off his asking price. Sounds like Sather is trying to pressure the Callahan camp to accept around the same money but on a shorter term. Given Callahan’s physical style and injury history that’s an understandable position.
Ultimately it could come down to Callahan. I don’t think Sather’s bluffing but he also won’t just give him away. As for the interest in Stewart, I think Sather will want a draft pick and/or a prospect included in the return. The move could work out for the Blues, as they would have Callahan at least as a rental player plus they’ll shed Stewart’s salary for next season. That would free up cap space for other moves, perhaps for a new starting goalie if they don’t re-sign Jaroslav Halak and/or Brian Elliott.
Not sure it would be an improvement for the Rangers long-term. Stewart’s a streaky scorer and coming in to replace a popular player like Callahan will put him under considerable pressure. Anyway, this should make the next week rather interesting in the rumor mill.
TSN.CA: Bob McKenzie reports the LA Kings desperately need scoring but there’s not much available right now in the trade market. The asking price for Buffalo’s Matt Moulson is high (first round pick and a prospect) plus he’s sidelined until after the Olympic break. The Flames are talking contract with Mike Cammalleri while the Islanders could wait until the trade deadline to make a decision on Thomas Vanek. McKenzie suggests Edmonton’s Sam Gagner as an option but he’s got two more years at $4.8 million per left on his contract, which could be difficult for the cap-heavy Kings to absorb….Pierre Lebrun reports if the Vancouver Canucks make moves it won’t be for rental players. He expects Alexander Edler could attract a lot of attention after the Olympics…Darren Dreger reports the Maple Leafs are willing to move winger Nikolai Kulemin but they want a player in return and currently there’s no offers on the table which make sense.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Keep an eye on the Kings heading toward next Friday’s 3 pm ET Olympic roster freeze. If they’re interested in Gagner they’ll have to move a player in return or a separate deal to make the dollars fit…Looks like it’s time for the Canucks to commence a rebuild. They don’t need to blow things up but they do need younger scorers and have depth on the blueline they can draw upon. Moving Edler could be their best option…If the Leafs want a roster player back for Kulemin they could be waiting in vain.
SPORTSNET.CA/TORONTO STAR: reports more moves could be coming for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the wake of their trading Mark Fraser to Edmonton on Friday. With injured Leafs Dave Bolland (ankle), David Clarkson (elbow), Frazer McLaren (shoulder) and Trevor Smith (hand) close to returning the club needs to free up some cap and roster space.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Star noted the Leafs can loan entry-level players to their AHL affiliate plus they can also send Bolland to the Marlies on a two-week conditioning stint. If they move Kulemin they can’t afford to take back much salary in return.
BUFFALO NEWS: John Vogl reports Sabres winger Matt Moulson (upper-body injury) is sidelined until after the Olympic break.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Clubs are interested in him but this could force them to wait until the trade deadline to make offers for him. I daresay the Sabres weren’t planning on moving him (if they do at all) until the trade deadline.
USA TODAY: Kevin Allen lists the most intriguing players in this year’s NHL trade market. Among the usual suspects (Dan Girardi, Ryan Callahan, Thomas Vanek, Matt Moulson, Ryan Miller,Steve Ott, Ales Hemsky) are Florida’s Marcel Goc and Brad Boyes along with Calgary’s Lee Stempniak.