Update, 12:02 p.m.:
Bob McKenzie at TSN throws a bit of a monkey wrench into Boomer's impending Callahan trade claims by tweeting that the Rangers don't have anything imminent in terms of trade for Callahan or Girardi and he expects it all to play out over 7 to 10 days.
McKenzie also adds that there hasn't been any progress on contract extensions for either player and terms are still the holdup.
For better or worse, the fast-moving NHL season hit a sudden lull once the season abruptly paused for the Olympics. Consquently, trade rumors were affected in the same way. The rumor mill seemed to be churning out more stories about Ryan Callahan every day, but the Olympics put a hault to that.
The USA sputtered out of the Olympics in amazingly deplorable way, and Canada defeated Sweden just now to win Gold. Olympic hockey is over, and we've now hit the symbolic start to the trading deadline frenzy while the official one is approaching; the trade freeze ends tonight at 11:59pm. Boomer Esiason has kicked off what soccer fans call "silly season" with a vague, yet dramatic and thunderous tweet.
— Boomer Esiason (@7BOOMERESIASON) February 23, 2014
Now, while that could basically mean anything, Boomer did spend a lot of time responding to questions and elaborating. From there it becomes a bit more clear to what he is referring. Let us first establish Esiason's credibility. He's a former New York athlete. He's also a radio host on WFAN. And he's a former athlete and current radio host who is a huge Rangers fan. Those things give him limitless friendships and resources. Even if it feels a bit strange to get hockey news from a former NFL quarterback, it makes sense that he would have a scoop. Most importantly, Esiason alluded to a potential Del Zotto-Klein trade weeks before it actually occurred and at a time when Nashville wasn't even speculated to be interested in Del Zotto. He also told me that, on a scale of 1-to-10 with 10 being Glen Sather himself told Esiason, he rates this source as a nine. I see no reason to believe that Esiason would make it up or that he'd have bad information. So let's continue on from here assuming that he knows what he's doing. Keep reading to see my speculation of potential moves based on Esasion's elaborations.
If you want to read all of his tweets then check them out here. However, there are a lot of them. I've done my best to narrow them down to the important points. Here are the main takeaways.
– As he sees it, the trade is already agreed upon
– There will be "lots of chatter" about it
– The trading partner is an Eastern Conference team
– It's a move involving "offense"
– The player coming to New York has a mix of grit and skill
– There will be mixed opinions about it
– It appears to be a 1-for-1 trade, with perhaps a draft pick involved
– The player the Rangers would be acquiring has "enough" points
– "Majority" of Rangers fans "wouldn't be happy initially" with the deal
– It doesn't involve Lundqvist, Nash, or Stepan
– He basically does everything but outright say that it's Ryan Callahan
– It isn't Buffalo and, therefore, it doesn't involve Matt Moulson.
It's been awfully quiet in terms of Callahan and Rangers contract discussions, hasn't it? Esiason says the trade is more or less agreed to in principle, and that only if "said player changes his mind on (money)" would the deal be upended. Assuming this is accurate, it makes me believe that the Rangers settled on trading Callahan some time ago and that they're only waiting for the trade freeze to end. Anyway, what we're looking for here is an Eastern Conference team that would be interested in Callahan, would be willing to move an NHL-caliber forward who puts up points and has some grittiness to his game, and isn't the Buffalo Sabres. I honestly have no idea what direction this could be headed, which in some ways makes it agonizingly annoying and in other ways makes it fun and exciting. I'll do my best to come up with some potential scenarios here. Note that theses are suggestions for trades I think are plausible and not necessarily personal preferences.
Why am I opening with Ottawa? I don't know. This whole situation has a scent of "out-of-left-field" to it so why not Ottawa? Senators GM Brian Murray recently said he is willing to spend and is in the market for a power forward. Callahan doesn't have the size of a prototypical power forward but he sure plays that kind of style. What would the Senators be willing to give up in return that could entice the Rangers? I'd love for it to be Bobby Ryan, but that's a pipedream. Jason Spezza's contract expires at the end of next season and is a name that has been lightly tossed around the rumor mill. He's captain of the Senators (then again, we're talking about Callahan here) and he has a No-Trade Clause, but stranger things have happened. His combination of skill and size certainly fits the mold. Esiason ruled out Chris Neil, and it's pathetic that he's had to answer that considering Neil in no way addresses offense or has "skill."
I know, it feels gross. But Eric Lindros happened. That line has already been crossed. Ed Snider and Paul Holmgren are a curious bunch and they seem to build teams with no sense of direction. They spontaneously traded Mike Richards and Jeff Carter so they could sign and then buyout Ilya Bryzgalov. They traded Bobrovsky and then later acquired Bobrovsky's backupm, then signed him to a big contract after a couple good months. Who knows what they're thinking? Scott Hartnell is one who fit the mold of gritty forwards with ample offense as well. He has been speculated about as well in regards to potential trades. Simmondsmight make sense but Esiason ruled that one out. Seeing Callahan in a Flyers jersey would suck, but Sather doesn't care if that would hurt your feelings. He's got a team to run.
The fanbase is quickly turning against Capitals GM George McPhee, and another disappointing season could mean a management change. McPhee surely feels some pressure to deliver some results this season, so a trade for a player like Callahan could make sense. As for what the Capitals have to offer? Please not Erat. Please not Erat. Please not Erat…
Yeah, he ruled out Erat.
Not much to dissect here. Boston is a contender. Callahan would fit into Claude Julien's style of play for sure. There's your potential fit. Brad Marchand had been the source of trade speculation earlier this season and fulfills the grit and offense parameters. I'd absolutely love that kind of swap, but I really don't think Boston would consider moving a 25-year-old under contract for a few years who is putting up better stats than Callahan as is. Chris Kelly would be a rather undewhelming return. Lucic or Bergeon isn't happening, so forget it.
Especially with Pascal Dupuis out for the season, the Penguins are desperate for a winger to put next to Crosby. I don't see any realistic return that fits the bill here, though. Neal would be nice, but negates the purpose of acquiring Callahan in the first place. Same with Kunitz. Beau Bennett is intriguing, but a bit on the raw side and would require much more coming from Pittsburgh.
I don't know, guys. I don't feel like this narrowed it down at all. The most logical trades involve either the Blues or the Kings, but both are Western Conference teams. I think we can safely rule out the Islanders and Devils. Esiason pretty much ruled out Buffalo. I also heavily doubt that a rebuilding Florida would give up anything for Callahan. Aside from that, I don't think any remaining team acquiring Callahan would surprise me. The only promise I can make is that the trading deadline is March 5th at 3pm EST, and that the noise is only going to get progressively and restlessly louder with trade winds on Callahan and Girardi turning into tornados until moves are made, contracts or signed, or the deadline passes altogether. We might not have to wait long on at least one of these guys, however. Esiason assumes an announcement could be coming "very quickly."
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