The New York Rangers reportedly have two plans of action: sign captain Ryan Callahan to an extension before Wednesday's trade deadline or trade him before Wednesday's trade deadline. Given Callahan's exuberant contract request, it seemed like the latter was the likeliest of the two scenarios.
With a little more than 48 hours remaining before the deadline, reports are surfacing that Callahan is softening in his demands.
TSN's Bob McKenzie tweeted on Monday morning that Callahan has backed off his initial request of a seven-year contract with an annual cap-hit of $7 million in favor of a six-year contract with a sub-$7 million annual salary. McKenzie believes that Callahan's latest offer is somewhere in the $6.5 million to $6.75 million range, which is still more than the Rangers are looking to pay.
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ESPN's Katie Strang confirmed McKenzie's report and tweeted that Callahan stepped back from his initial offer sometime before the Olympic break. Strang, like McKeznie, notes that a financial gap still exists, as the Rangers are proposing a six-year contract at $6 million per year.
Pierre LeBrun of ESPN and TSN tied it all together in his Monday morning blog post, writing that Callahan is asking for less than $6.5 million per year at six-years. LeBrun is in agreement with the other reports and believes New York would be willing to extend Callahan with a six-year contract at $6 million per year.
Callahan has been identified as a potential player in deadline drama. Linked to a proposed trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning for Martin St. Louis, the Rangers captain also was viewed as an appealing piece to the St. Louis Blues. With Tampa's asking price requiring more than Callahan and the Blues acquiring Steve Ott in the Ryan Miller trade, those two destinations seem to have gone off the radar.
Callahan is an attractive player and the Rangers could likely find a trade if push comes to shove. But his ability to test unrestricted free agency this summer and his reported asking price are key factors to consider for any manager interested in making a deal.
While Callahan and the Rangers still remain separate on money, minor concessions might allow for the two sides to form an agreement before 3 p.m., ET Wednesday. While his diminishing asking price might have developed a few weeks ago, its emergence now might be a sign of negotiations heading in a constructive direction. Or, at the very least, one side attempting to move talks in that direction.