It seems that the Ryan Callahan trade rumors are not going away anytime soon.
Just days after rumors surfaced that the Rangers are gauging trade interest in their captain and soon-to-be free agent, TSN's Darren Dreger added some fuel to that fire on Friday night. Dreger reported that the Rangers have granted one team permission to speak to Callahan's agent, and that said team has already been in contact with his agent.
Dreger also reported on Friday that the Rangers had been collecting information on St. Louis Blues forward Chris Stewart, while ESPN's Pierre LeBrun mentioned the Columbus Blue Jackets as another team that could potentially have interest.
The Blue Jackets and Rangers have already made a couple of high-profile trades over the past year and a half, including the deal that sent Rick Nash to the Rangers and last year's shocking deadline move that sent Marian Gaborik to Columbus.
Callahan, who turns 29 in March, is in the final year of a three-year contract that pays him an average of $4.275 million per season. He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer if no new deal is reached before then, and he is likely looking for a salary in the $6-7 million per year range. For a guy who has probably already peaked as an offensive player in the league, that could be a steep price for a team to pay -- whether it's the Rangers or somebody else.
Callahan has scored nine goals to go with 11 assists in 38 games this season, a pretty noticeable drop from where he was a couple of years ago from a points per game perspective. Callahan brings several other qualities beyond offense -- some of them are tangible, some of them are not -- and it's up to Glen Sather or a yet-to-be-named general manager on another team to figure out how comfortable they are paying for that.
Along with Callahan, the Rangers also have to figure out what they're going to do with defenseman Dan Girardi, who is also an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Even though the Rangers are currently in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 61 points entering play Friday, they are only three points ahead of ninth place in the Eastern Conference, so the playoffs are far from a guarantee at this point even with Callahan and Girardi.