Things can change quickly when it comes to contract negotiations, but with a 3 p.m. roster freeze approaching Friday, it appears that Ryan Callahan likely will travel with Team USA to Sochi as a Ranger.
As of Wednesday night, the two sides appeared no closer to an agreement on a trade, or a long-term deal to keep the Rangers captain and pending unrestricted free agent in New York.
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And so Callahan, who scored a pair of first-period goals in the 5-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday and has said several times that he'd like to remain here, likely will be in the lineup when the streaking Rangers (31-23-3 and winners of four in a row) host Edmonton on Thursday night.
If a trade is imminent, teams often will designate a player as a healthy scratch to protect their asset from an injury that could scotch the agreement. So if the right wing dresses against the Oilers (19-33-6), it is a very good indication that No. 24 will stay -- at least for the short term. Should Callahan be scratched, a swap is on the horizon.
The difference in the intermittent talks is in the term and the amount. Callahan's agent, Steve Bartlett, is reportedly seeking a seven-year contract in excess of $6 million per season. Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather, with decisions on other UFAs, such as top-pair defenseman Dan Girardi, and RFAs coming, wants to hold the line, with an offer believed to be for five years and $30 million for Callahan, who will be 29 next month.
If Callahan, a hellbent-for-leather type of player who is in his seventh full season with the Rangers, the team that drafted him in the fourth round in 2004, isn't dealt before Friday, the next decision for both sides will come after the Olympic gold-medal game, when the roster freeze lifts and the rumor mill rumbles again.
Teams that may have been reluctant to pull the trigger on a major deal before Sochi will then have until March 5, the NHL's trade deadline. For Sather, the question is: How much is it worth to have a team leader here for a spring playoff run, but most likely lose him for nothing in the summer, when teams with deep pockets are widely expected to come calling? For Callahan's side, will he leave money on the table in order to stay on Broadway?
So far, Callahan, a Rochester, N.Y., native who apparently will be in the Sabres' sights if he gets to free agency, has been able to block out the talks, but admitted that he is using the stalemate to prove his worth.
"Maybe a little bit of both," he said after Tuesday's game. "I try not to bring that business to the rink."
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