This one time (this afternoon) I sent an email full of my thoughts on the Callahan/St. Louis trade to, like, 75% of my readership? Anyway, here they are, because isn't that why I still have this thing?
-- No doubt, St. Louis is legitimately great, even at this age. 61 points in 62 games so far this season, and most of that was without Stamkos. He's a 38-year-old, small, scrappy forward, so it's hard to imagine that lasting for too much longer, but his deal ends at the end of next season. I would absolutely sign a 2-year, $5.625-mil deal with St. Louis right now. The Rangers get significantly better with this deal.
-- It is very hard to see Ryan Callahan go. He's my first player-I-have-a-jersey-of loss since Adam Graves became a Shark. Thus really finally ends the "Duballahan" years of lovable, tough, "3rd-line" forwards brought up in our system that made the franchise respectable again.
-- With that said, the 6 years at $6 million offer was already a bit of an overpayment for what Callahan brings. Callahan's camp reportedly came all the way down to 6 years at $6.25 million, but would not budge on the no-movement clause. It's very hard to justify paying a 34-year-old Ryan Callahan north of $6 million dollars and not even being able to trade or re-assign him.
-- So, given that we won't have Callahan 3 months from now anyway, trading him straight-up for a year and change of an elite talent like St. Louis seems like a no-brainer. It sucks, and it's very hard on the fans and players - Staal said they all kind of expected a contract with Callahan to get done, and Brassard said the locker room was "not good" today. (Here's hoping the professional athletes can shake that off.) But, for the team, it seems like the obvious right thing to do - in a straight-up trade, the team gets better in the short term and has less potentially bad commitment in the long term.
-- That said, we gave up too much in this trade. In addition to Callahan, we gave up our 2014 1st-rounder and a 2015 2nd-rounder which, if we win 2 playoff rounds this season, becomes another 1st-rounder. Tampa only loses picks back if Callahan re-signs with them, which he will not (more on that later). That's a lot of draft pick to give up to briefly upgrade Callahan to St. Louis, even though it is an upgrade. If the Rangers win the Cup this season or next, obviously those picks become worth it. But, given that we're worse than at least 2 teams in our conference, which is the shitty conference, it's hard to immediately justify giving up potentially two first-rounders for this upgrade.
-- Ultimately, I think the Rangers were between a rock and a hard place: either have Ryan Callahan for too much money on a no-movement clause through age 35, or give up these high picks? In Sather's position, I'm not totally sure I'd do either - I'd probably just keep Callahan for now and let him walk in July - but given the relative age of a lot of our best players right now, I definitely understand why Sather did what he did.
-- Callahan will not re-sign with Tampa or sign back with us at this point. He will probably go to Buffalo, who will probably give him 7 years at $7 million with a no-movement clause, or something. And never win anything, because that team is awful.
-- It is a lot less likely now that we will buy out Richards. And that's okay for now - he's been very solid this year. That contract is going to be hurting us a lot by 2020, but we already knew that. If the contract sounds crazy-long to you (and it is), remember that it ends at the same time Callahan's proposed 6-year deal would have ended.
-- Not sure who wears the 'C'. If it were up to me, I'd give it to Girardi or Lundqvist. It will likely go to Staal or Richards.
-- The last time the New York Rangers traded their active captain was June 30, 2003, when they traded Mark Messier to the San Jose Sharks for "future considerations." Those future considerations became the Sharks' 4th-rounder in 2004 (the draft that happened just before the season-long lockout). The pick ended up being the 127th overall in that draft, which the Rangers used to pick... say it with me now... Ryan Callahan.