Impending UFAs Asking for Big Money Contracts – A Look to Ottawa’s Future

On tonight’s edition of ‘Insider Trading’, the TSN panel relayed rumours and other assorted scuttlebutt.

While there was nothing explicitly said about the Ottawa Senators, it’s worth mentioning that the New York Rangers are considering their options when it comes to impending UFAs like Dan Girardi and most importantly, Ryan Callahan.

Dreger: (The Rangers are) gauging interest in Ryan Callahan and I know that's going to be a big surprise to Rangers fans out there. There's been much speculation because of the significance of the signing of those two players, but I'm told that Rangers general manager Glen Sather has reached out to a number of general managers and he is gauging trade interest on Callahan, less so on Girardi.

I know there's a lot of interest in Girardi, but the sense is that the Rangers are more comfortable or, at least, more confident that they'll get Girardi signed.

Bob McKenzie: It's my understanding that if the Rangers do not sign Callahan and/or Girardi by the trade deadline, they are determined to trade one or both of them, whichever guy is not signed. Even though they're very much in the playoff picture, they realize they're not a Cup contender and they're not going to let one or both of these guys walk in the summer for absolutely nothing.

The other aspect that's interesting with negotiations is that Girardi and Callahan are both looking for long-term deals. Girardi is going to be 30 years old in the summer and he's looking for a seven-year deal with Jay Bouwmeester-type money, up around $5.4 million per season. As for Callahan, the captain of the Rangers, he wants a seven-year deal believed to be at more than $6 million a year. These guys will get that in unrestricted free agency, so the term is a concern for the New York Rangers.

As their captain, it was somewhat surprising to learn that the Rangers would even consider trading a player who oozes the intangibles and bleeds sand. He’s gritty. He’s truculent. He brings his lunch pail to the rink and goes to work. Don Cherry loves him. He blocks shots. He knows the words and sings along to every Bruce Springsteen song that comes on the radio. He hits. He probably digs wells in Africa during the offseason with his bare hands. He reportedly wants a seven-year contract worth an average annual value of $6 million.

*SPITS COFFEE ALL OVER MY COMPUTER*

$6 million dollars for seven years?!??!

Who in their right mind would ever pay that kind of money for Ryan Callahan?!!?

Wait, don’t answer that.

It’s an ambitious request and one that is designed to capitalize on the fact that Glen Sather has hastily given out max value contracts to players like Bobby Holik, Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, Darius Kasparaitis and Wade Redden.

Under normal circumstances, it’s the kind of request that should certainly scare the bejesus out of any rational general manager.

Callahan will be 29 when he hits the open market and his career high in points during a season is 54. He has also never hit the 30 goal milestone in a season.

Where some general managers see a player built for playoff hockey who has some NHL skill, I see a player who has never been a great offensive player who has a lot of mileage on his body; a player who probably isn’t worth overpaying through the seasons when he is in his 30’s. By the time a prospective seven-year contract ends, he’ll be 37 years old.

With a player like Callahan, it all comes down to the intangibles and because of those intangibles, there’s a good chance that some desperate general manager will pony up the cash to help put an already good team over the top.

In fact, I don’t doubt that he’s going to get it and because of that, it makes me wonder what Bobby Ryan is going to be looking for on his next contract.

Bobby Ryan will be 28 when he hits UFA. He’s a four-time 30 goal scorer and there’s a good chance he surpasses that 30-goal benchmark this season as well. Callahan’s career high in regular season points is 54, and Ryan has exceeded that total already on four separate occasions in his career and he’ll assuredly do it again this season.

But where Ryan excels with production, his game also comes with warts.

Skating, his ability to drive possession, defensive aptitude, and wait, what’s that Shawn Simpson? You want to interject here? Okay, have at it.

Shawn Simpson: “Conditioning! Don’t forget his conditioning.”

Ah yes, who could forget that?

These limitations or perceived flaws have all been scrutinized and have helped contribute to Ryan ranking 126th amongst NHL forwards in average ice-time per game.

So long as Ryan scores goals, you can overlook his shortcomings as a player. But at some point in the near future, the organization is going to have to sit down and assess its situation.

How long will Melnyk or Murray be comfortable paying Ryan premium dollars before the expectation of diminished returns creep in.

If Bobby is looking for a seven or eight-year deal worth north of $6-8 million per season, I think there’s a reasonable argument to be made that, despite signing a contract with Ryan to an advanced age, if you think you have a chance to contend in the next three to four years, you overpay on the latter years to ensure that Ryan is part of that window of Cup contention.

Of course, the rising cap and Canada’s income tax situation will certainly have an effect on the amount of money that Bobby Ryan will look for.

So here’s a question for you readers, what would the parameters of a Bobby Ryan contract extension have to be for you to walk away from them?

Other News and Notes…

– Just in case you had any lingering doubt that Cody Ceci might someday be returned to Binghamton, the Senators informed Ceci weeks ago to find a place to stay. Ceci had been living with his parents at their home in Orleans.

– According to Wayne Scanlan’s latest, Senators GM Bryan Murray has not decided whether or not the team should be adding or subtracting UFAs. 

– The Senators and Bell Media will be announcing the details of their new regional broadcast rights this afternoon. Here is what we know about their new 12-year partnership that will expire at the conclusion of the 2025-26 season from TSN.ca:

– English-language regional television broadcast rights for TSN – a minimum of 52 regular season and pre-season games
- French-language regional television broadcast rights for RDS – a minimum of 40 regular season and pre-season games
- English-language broadcast rights for TSN Radio 1200 – all games
- French-language radio broadcast rights – all games
- Telecommunications and retail sponsorship and activation rights

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