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NHL Trade Deadline 2014: Could Ryan Callahan be a fit for the Habs?

The Rangers captain has been the subject of trade rumors for the past few weeks, could the gritty forward be a good fit in Montreal?

Could Callahan be wearing a new red white and blue jersey soon?
Could Callahan be wearing a new red white and blue jersey soon?
Who is he?

Ryan Callahan is one of the bigger names floating around a lot as the trade deadline approaches and for good reason, Callahan is one of those heart and soul players that can be used in all kinds of situations making him a highly attractive target to teams looking for a deep playoff run. While he isn't a 30 goal scorer the Rochester New York native is good for 20 goals/20 assists a year while playing tough minutes. The biggest question mark around Callahan is his ability to remain healthy as he suffered an MCL injury last season and has yet to play a full 82 game season in his NHL career.

Why should the Marc Bergevin acquire him?

Marc Bergevin loves tough gritty players as evidenced by his signings of Douglas Murray and acquisitions of Dale Weise and George Parros. Ryan Callahan fits right into Bergevins mantra and thankfully unlike Murray/Parros/Weise he can actually score goals as well. Bergevin and head coach Michel Therrien constantly mention team character and being a good teammate which suits Callahan perfectly as he has only played professional hockey in the New York Rangers franchise. He also fills a hole in the lineup by adding a player who can play in tough minutes on any line, while current captain Brian Gionta occupies the top spot at RW Callahan could easily slot in next to Lars Eller and bump Rene Bourque into an exploitation role(or send him to another team).

From Blueshirt Banter

Evan Sporer of Blueshirt Banter was kind enough to answer some questions for me on potentially acquiring the Rangers captain.

Me: What qualities do you think Callahan possesses that makes him such an attractive piece to teams at the trade deadline?

Evan: A lot of what Ryan Callahan can bring to a team isn't only measured in points. That's not to say he's not a capable scorer(he's probably good for bout 20 or so goals) but there are many other things he adds to the fold. He'll play in any scenario; he''s great in front of the net on the power play, and one of the best penalty killing forwards in the league. He may be the best shot-blocks forward in the league, almost to a fault, as he's sustained a few injuries putting is body on the line. For a team looking to make a playoff push(say, Montreal, or maybe St. Louis before the Ryan Miller trade), you're talking about adding not only a play to the on ice product but also the locker room. It's kind of cliche, but it's something that can't be ignored. That, and if you're confident you can re-sign him longterm come this summer, you're looking at a pretty steady investment for the next six years or so.

Me: What do you think the Habs would have to give up to acquire him at the deadline?

Evan: Max Pacioretty’s name was floated around a little bit before, but admittedly, from either perspective, the Habs would be getting housed in that deal. And we know what happened the last time these two teams made a trade (sorry to bring it up), but the player the Rangers received would likely be a prime candidate to replace Callahan as the Rangers captain if he were to leave. So Montreal may be a bit wary to give up a younger guy who hasn’t completely developed yet. Every rumor involving Callahan has seen the Rangers getting back a top-6, ready-now forward. Guys like Martin St. Louis, Chris Stewart; guys who could slot in for Callahan today. Of course, Pacioretty fills that role and then some, but it seems like Montreal is pretty steadfast on not pursuing that deal. So what other wingers on Montreal’s roster fit that bill? Maybe a guy like Brendan Gallagher, but I’d again think Montreal would be reluctant to part ways with him in a Callahan deal. Montreal has some depth down the middle, but so do the Rangers. It’s going to be a tough sell for both sides if anything is to happen.

Me: Where do you think Callahan could fit in the current Montreal lineup?

Evan: He’d slot somewhere in the top 6. And again, I think you have to assume if a trade was to go down, Montreal would be surrendering a forward from one of its top two lines, so Callahan would be the logical replacement. But he’s familiar with a guy like Pacioretty from USA Hockey. He’d be great on the penalty kill with Brandon Prust, as two guys who were staples on the Rangers’ shorthanded unit for a number of years. Pacioretty, and even Gallagher play more of an up-tempo game, whereas Callahan is effective getting the puck deep, and working the walls on the forecheck. I think he could maybe work well on Tomas Plekanec’s wing, in that sort of grind role. But he’s a player you want playing top-6 minutes, and would most certainly find time on both special teams units.

Me: Is there any chance he is re-signed instead of traded before the deadline?

Evan: One major suitor already seems like its out in St. Louis. Every time a team bows out of trade talks, it hurts the Rangers leverage with any potential trade suitor, and complicates things. Another big factor in this is that the team just re-signed Dan Girardi to a six-year, $33 million extension. At first glance, you might think that means less money to re-sign Callahan, and an increased likelihood he gets moved. But in this situation, it might mean the Rangers are likely willing to give Callahan a six-year deal, which was one of the items that had his camp and the team’s brass at an impasse. Callahan ultimately wants to stay in New York: He’s the most universally-liked Ranger since maybe Mike Richter or Adam Graves. The gap in negotiations reportedly might be at about $500,000 annually, which, considering the salary cap is set to go up, might not be too much to overcome. All the numbers being reported (we’re in the ballpark of six years, $6-7 million per) are less than what Callahan would get on the open market. My guy right now says he actually re-signs and remains a Ranger, but these negotiations are so fickle; any wrong turn could lead to him getting dealt before March 5.

So there we have it a tough all situations forward that fits into the plan of both the general manager and head coach but is he worth letting a Brendan Gallagher or Max Pacioretty go? If not who would you be willing to give up to acquire Callahan and with the cap going up and P.K. Subban and Lars Eller needing new contracts would you attempt to re-sign him after the trade?