Thu 6 Mar 2014
I don’t mind the New York Rangers acquiring Martin St. Louis.
I don’t mind the Rangers trading Ryan Callahan.
I sort of don’t mind giving up the draft picks – although I am usually against trading away first round draft picks.
However, what I do mind is that all of this happened in one trade.
Glen Sather had Steve Yzerman by the short and curlies because St. Louis would only waive his no-trade clause to come to the Rangers. Yes, Yzerman could have held to him but the Lightning would run the risk of holding on to a disgruntled player who wanted out of Tampa Bay.
The Lightning could have waited until the summer or even into next season before trading their captain, but at what point would St. Louis have become a diminishing return?
If one accepts the old adage that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results” then we have proof that Glen Sather is insane. No, not because he traded a 28-year-old Ryan Callahan for 38-year-old Martin St. Louis in yet another “not-so-old player for old player” trade. Rather, the insanity comes when you make that type of trade AND potentially include two first round draft picks for a player who has a no-trade clause and demanded to be traded to your team in the first place.
It seems that, to Sather, Leverage is merely a TV show that was cancelled by TNT.
Sather justified the deal with the Lightning (and thus the inclusion of the draft picks) over a deal for future help (ESPN reported that San Jose offered such a deal) because the septuagenarian did not see any “guarantee” in the draft class.
Considering the way the Rangers usually draft, Sather has a point because there are no “guarantees” with this organization when it comes to draft picks.
With Yzerman in a Catch-22 situation, Sather needed to apply the heat to the younger GM. Slats needed to stare down Yzerman and make a deal without including Callahan – possibly substituting a prospect like a Jesper Fast or Danny Kristo. The Rangers GM needed to take advantage of the situation much like he when he turned Anson Carter into an in-his-prime Jaromir Jagr in January 2003.
Speaking of Jagr, the last time a team traded the defending Art Ross Trophy winner was in 2001 when Pittsburgh dealt Jagr to Washington.
If Sather managed to keep Callahan out of the deal, I did not expect the Rangers to re-sign their former captain. Callahan’s contract demands – even after he backed off his desire for a seven-year deal – were too rich for the Rangers’ blood.
One more than one occasion, Rick Carpiniello of the Journal News pointed out the first 3/4 years of the Callahan contract would be to the Rangers’ favor while the remaining ¾ years of the contract would be an albatross given Callahan’s style of play which leaves him vulnerable to injuries.
What Sather should have done is kept Callahan out of the St. Louis deal and look to move him in another deal. While it was a buyer’s market on deadline day – just ask Garth Snow about that – Sather could have accepted San Jose’s offer. Sather then could have used the draft picks and/or prospects in a deal during the summer to continue the “renovation” of the Rangers.
Sather could also have dialed up new Buffalo GM Tim Murray to see of the Sabres wanted to bring the Rochester, NY native into the fold. Some have asked why would the Sabres do that when they could sign him as an Unrestricted Free Agent?
First off, given all of the grief Buffalo ownership is facing over the “resignation” of Pat LaFontaine, Terry Pegula could use any positive public relations help.
Secondly, it is not necessarily a fait accompli that Callahan signs with the Sabres. All it takes is one crazy team with cap space to spoil the Sabres plans.
And finally, Callahan might be willing to give his home town Sabres a hometown discount after being traded “home”.
The Sabres were rumored to be shopping recently acquired Chris Stewart and were willing to move defensemen Christian Ehrhoff and Tyler Myers. One has to wonder if there would/could have been a deal to be made.
I do admit this plan does feature a lot of moving parts – probably too many for deals like this to be done on Deadline Day – which is why Sather needed to act sooner rather than later.
However, Sather’s delay in getting an extension done with Henrik Lundqvist then delayed getting an extension done with Dan Girardi which then delayed the Callahan decision.
The seeds of the Callahan trade, at least from the Blueshirts’ standpoint, were probably sowed back during the summer. Yesterday, TSN’s Darren Dreger tweeted that Cally’s original request during the summer was for an eight-year deal at $7.5 million per season. Combine that request with John Tortorella’s firing and the hiring of Alain Vigneault and you get the idea the Callahan Saga was not going to end well for the pro-Cally fans.
Former Rangers defenseman Chris Kotsopoulos summed up the situation the best in a recent Facebook entry: “However when it came down to placing one’s value on yourself, he overreached. Too many years, too much money and a No trade stipulation? Those demands were the demands of superstar status. He was never ever in that category. I personally liked Cally and the way he played and approached the game, but the game itself has production standards and he simply never achieved those standards needed for the high demands he and his agent were asking. Unfortunately, not all, but some forget that the NHL is a business.”
As for St. Louis’ standpoint, people point to his original Olympic snub as the catalyst for the trade request. While MSL did say the snub played a part in asking for a trade, it was not the first time the former Lightning captain made that request. Former Lightning GM/former Ranger Brian Lawton said that St. Louis had requested a trade to the Rangers as far back as 2009.
There are a couple of schools of thought when it comes to figuring out who got the best of any trade. The first way is the easy way – who got the best player in the deal. Without any question, the Rangers got the best player.
The second way is to look a couple of years down the road – especially when draft picks and/or prospects are included in a trade. We won’t know who is the winner on this end until after Tampa Bay makes their selections or trades their picks – and even then it will take a couple of years.
There is still one more factor that has to be considered – how does this trade play into future salary caps?
In her March 6, 2014 Los Angeles Times article, Helene Elliott wrote that Kings GM Dean Lombardi said the salary cap for next year is not going to be as high as first thought – thanks to the weakness of the Canadian dollar. Instead of the much-rumored $71 million cap, Lombardi told Elliott that “the cap could be as low as $68 [million].”
The acquisition of St. Louis muddles the Rangers cap situation next year. While the MSL has one year remaining at less than what Callahan would have gotten, the 38-year-old’s presence might spell the return of former Lightning teammate Brad Richards – as the veteran center could avoid being bought out for a second consecutive year.
This muddled situation got even more muddled when the NHL announced that they are rescinding part of the New Jersey Devils’ punishment for circumventing the salary cap when they re-signed Ilya Kovalchuk in 2010.
While the Devils will not get back THEIR first round pick this year, the NHL has awarded them the 30th overall pick – no matter where they finish. In addition, the league also reduced the original $3 million fine. The only “punishment” the Devils face is a $250,000 recapture hit to next year’s salary cap.
New Jersey argued that their circumstances changed when Kovalchuk left during the summer to play in the KHL.
The following tweet from Dreger pretty much sums up what the NHL did: “Teams that didn’t break rules punished retroactively on cap recapture. Team that did, is not punished.”
The general reaction is that Gary Bettman and the NHL did the Devils new ownership a solid. You can pretty much bet every other NHL team is going to want a similar solid as well. At least now we know why the Devils did not pitch much of a fit when Kovalchuk ran out on his contract or why President/GM Lou Lamoriello did not give up his pick (29th) overall when the Devils went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012.
In the final postscript, the last time the Rangers traded their captain was June 2003 when they sent UFA-to-be Mark Messier to the Sharks for a conditional draft pick – which became San Jose’s fourth round draft pick in 2004. The player the Rangers selected with that pick was Ryan Callahan.