All this trade talk hasn’t affected New York Rangers captain Ryan Callahan, who erupted for two first period goals and three points Tuesday to power his Blueshirts past the visiting Colorado Avalanche 5-1. It was the 28-year-old’s best single-game offensive output of the season, but more importantly, it was New York’s fourth consecutive win in their race to stay ahead of hard-charging Columbus for second place in the Metropolitan Division.
Callahan’s name has been the main grist for the rumor mills of late, with reports his agent had permission to talk to multiple teams about a contract extension for the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent. But the 28-year-old scored both his goals in a three-and-a-half-minute span late in the first period to set the tone for the Rangers, who have won seven of their past 10 games and are three points ahead of the Blue Jackets, who have a game in hand.
The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports the Rangers could trade captain Ryan Callahan if he’s unsigned by the March 5 trade deadline. While that move could adversely affect their playoff hopes, Brooks believes it would be necessary to ensure they get something for Callahan rather than risk losing him for nothing to free agency in July.
While Callahan’s preference is to re-sign with the Rangers, Brooks says the right winger’s asking price (seven years, $42 million) could be too expensive for GM Glen Sather, even though Callahan would certainly get that much on the open market this summer. Sather is reportedly gauging Callahan’s trade value. Brooks suggests a potential return should be “at least a player who can step in immediately plus a legitimate prospect.” He also cites sources saying the Rangers have interest in Colorado Avalanche left winger Jamie McGinn, but doesn’t know if that interest is tied to Callahan or a separate potential deal.
It’s difficult to believe Sather would trade his captain at such a crucial point in the season, especially considering the GM’s past willingness to spend big on retaining key players and pursuing free agent talent. It could be a pressure tactic on Sather’s part to force Callahan to accept a lesser deal. If Callahan won’t budge, however, Sather’s hand may be forced by deadline day. Read more
The Avalanche locked up starting goalie Semyon Varlamov to a five-year contract extension Thursday – and like many of the goalie contracts being handed out these days, there are significant risks to Colorado’s investment.
ESPN.com reported Varlamov’s new deal had a total value of $29.5 million and an average annual value of $5.9 million per season. That’s nearly as much of a cap hit and term as Chicago’s Corey Crawford (six years, $36 million), someone who has a Stanley Cup championship on his resume. The 25-year-old Varlamov hasn’t been in the playoffs since he was a Washington Capital in 2009 and is only one year removed from a decidedly mediocre campaign in which he posted a 3.02 goals-against average and .903 save percentage. His lifetime .915 SP is decent, but again, nothing to warrant this type of commitment.
Yes, Varlamov has been one of the reasons the Avs are surprising people this year. But you’d think team brass would have used some of their leverage – Varlamov was only going to be a restricted free agent this summer – to their advantage. If Joe Sakic & Co. call this taking advantage of that leverage, one shudders to think what they would have offered him if Varlamov was an unrestricted free agent.
By the time Varlamov’s contract expires in 2019, his cap hit won’t be seen as nearly so onerous. But that’s only if he delivers in a way and at a level he hasn’t delivered at so far. That’s a hell of a gamble – one with a tremendous downside – and an indication NHL GMs aren’t willing to take shorter-term risks when they often make more sense than deals like this one.
I’m not buying the malarkey Daryl Katz is shoveling.
In a recent letter posted on the Edmonton Oilers’ website, the team owner acknowledged an eighth consecutive season outside the playoffs is likely and asked fans for more patience.
But in the process, Katz added this comment that didn’t sit right with me: “The good news, if you can call it that, is that other teams that committed to fundamental rebuilds went through the same kind of droughts over the same kind of time frames, or longer.”
I immediately called cow patty on that.
Another week, another round of trade rumors regarding Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, who’s eligible for unrestricted free agency in July.
Miller remains linked to the St. Louis Blues even though, as Dan O’Neill of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch observes, they lack the cap space to take on the remainder of his salary and could be unwilling to pay what’s expected to be a steep asking price from the Sabres.
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch recently suggested the Minnesota Wild as a destination, citing Josh Harding’s absence due to ongoing multiple sclerosis symptoms. Twitter was abuzz on Monday over a rumored offer from the Wild of Dany Heatley, a young player like Charlie Coyle or Mikael Granlund and a first-round pick for Miller.
Ottawa Senators management recently concluded meetings with their scouting staff to discuss the club’s current position, as well as long- and short-term options for improvement.
It’s widely known GM Bryan Murray is in the market for a scoring winger. Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen reports Buffalo Sabres left winger Matt Moulson and Edmonton Oilers right winger Ales Hemsky are among Murray’s trade targets, while the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch believes Moulson tops the list.
Murray’s nephew Tim Murray, a former Senators assistant GM, is now the GM of the Sabres so it’s natural to assume the pair will talk trade in the coming weeks. The elder Murray, however, shouldn’t expect any family discounts, as Tim said he won’t move Moulson, goaltender Ryan Miller or winger Steve Ott unless he gets significant returns. He also said he’s under no pressure to trade those players before the Olympic break. It’s expected he’ll retain the trio until the March 5 trade deadline in hopes of driving up their value. Read more
There’s a strong race shaping up for the NHL’s rookie of the year and though Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon remains on top, there’s a wolfpack on his heels. Injuries both minor (Aleksander Barkov) and major (Tomas Hertl) throw a bit of a wrench into the proceedings, but there can only be one Calder winner in the end. Here’s a look at the current candidates.
1. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
That speed that MacKinnon used so effectively in junior? Still very much effective. The youngster has back-to-back two point games right now and leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (33) through 49 games. His faceoff work is improving, too.
“качание на доске” is the best way to describe the competition for Russia’s No. 1 goalie job at the upcoming Sochi Olympics. Every time we blink, the upper hand shifts from Sergei Bobrovsky to Semyon Varlamov, then back again.
To summarize the drama:
- There was no debate as recently as September. Bobrovsky was the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, fresh off a spectacular season in which he posted a .932 save percentage. Varlamov was a league-average starter with a fairly loose grip on his job. (Bobrovsky: +1)
- Then a crafty new coach named Patrick Roy gave Varlamov a vote of confidence in Colorado. Like the team as a whole, Varlamov was piping hot in the season’s first month, winning seven of eight starts. Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets and Bobrovsky couldn’t duplicate last season’s competitiveness and ‘Bob’ struggled to keep his save percentage north of .900 in October and November. (Varlamov: +1; Bobrovsky: -1)
- Varlamov was arrested on domestic violence charges Oct. 30. The charges have since been dropped, but it’s fair to assume it was a distraction. Varlamov pre-arrest: 7-1-0, 1.76 goals-against average, .945 SP. Post-arrest: 17-8-5, 2.56 GAA, .920 SP. Regression to the mean, sure, but the splits are interesting nonetheless. (Varlamov: -1)
- Bobrovsky missed pretty much all of December with a groin strain before returning early this month. (Bobrovsky: -1)