Buffalo Sabres: Should They Trade for Ryan Callahan?


It’s not everyday that you see as strong a reaction to a player purportedly being placed on the trading block as you did when Ryan Callahan was yesterday.

Pierre LeBrun of TSN/ESPN reported yesterday that the New York Rangers‘ general manager Glen Sather was open to moving Callahan, the team’s captain, if a new contract was not had prior to the March 5 trade deadline. 

Following LeBrun‘s report, you could just imagine the remaining 29 GMs in the NHL racing to the phone to see what Sather wanted in return. Callahan is not your typical player, and very few guys in the NHL right now can even be remotely compared to him. 

Callahan is a top-six forward on every NHL team and is consistently in the conversation for the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the league. He kills penalties as well as anyone in the NHL and can score 25 goals on top of it.

Simply put: Callahan is a player any NHL team would dream of having.

So it isn’t a stretch to learn that the Buffalo Sabres are reportedly very interested in obtaining the Rochester, N.Y. native’s services. In his article, Larry Brooks backs up what LeBrun reported yesterday, while also stating two important new pieces of information to Sabres fans: Callahan wants a seven-year, $42 million deal, and he tops the Sabres’ “wish list.”

Now, one shouldn’t need Brooks’ report to know the Sabres are interested. The 29 teams who aren’t the Rangers are interested.

The question instead is what would the Sabres be willing to give up to get Callahan?

First, it needs to be acknowledged that the events of the past 24 hours closely mirror that of the Dustin Brown saga of 2012.

Right around the 2011-12 season’s trade deadline, the Los Angeles Kings were on the outside of the playoffs looking in. They had just acquired Mike Richards from the Philadelphia Flyers the preceding offseason for a hefty price tag and many believed that the front office wanted to move forward with him as their captain instead of Brown. That, plus the acquisition of Jeff Carter, led to reports that Brown was on the trading block and, much like today’s situation, the other 29 teams raced to their phones.

A few nights later, Brown scored a hat trick and blew his name off the trading block almost as fast as it got there. A few months later the Kings won the Stanley Cup.

The Rangers are in a similar position this year (sixth place in the Eastern Conference), so this could all blow over very quickly.

However, if it does not, the Sabres definitely will be among those trying to acquire Callahan.

The question around the league will then turn to whether or not trading for Callahan is even necessary. 

If the LeBrun and Brooks reports are accurate, the Rangers and Callahan are light years apart in negotiations, with Callahan wanting $6 million a year and the Rangers simply being in no place salary cap-wise to pay him anything close to that.

That leaves the very real possibility that Callahan will hit the open market come July 1 when free agency begins.

While it is a crapshoot, one would have to assume playing for his hometown team would hold at least some allure for Callahan. It’s not a coincidence that Ryan Suter and Zach Parise ended up in Minnesota.

The Sabres will also not have any issue paying the man. With an estimated $42 million-plus in cap space for next season as of this moment (via CapGeek), the Sabres have some work to do to even reach the $52 million salary cap floor.

But what if Tim Murray really wants Callahan and he isn’t a betting man?

There hasn’t been much in terms of Sather‘s asking price out there quite yet, but one would have to assume the cost would be substantial.

It likely isn’t a fruitful exercise to speculate on packages that would secure a deal because Sather‘s idea of Callahan’s worth is likely well beyond any other GM’s, but at least one of the Sabres’ first- or second-round picks this year would be included for sure.

Beyond that it would seem that Sather would want an experienced player to put into the lineup immediately with some offensive punch (see Matt Moulson, Tyler Ennis, Cody Hodgson, Drew Stafford).

Essentially what it boils down to is whether or not Murray is willing to part with some valuable assets in order to ensure himself of Callahan’s services. As of right now, all signs lead to him hitting the free-agent market, so is giving up a top-60 pick and Ennis good asset management? Even more important in all of this is whether or not Callahan wants to sign in Buffalo in the first place.

So, while Callahan is the type of player Buffalo hasn’t seen since Chris Drury left in 2008, the asking price should drive whether or not Murray decides to make a deal to bring him in. He cannot and should not trade away substantial assets for a guy they could have potentially gotten for “free.”

Regardless, it would be nice to see No. 24 suit up in the blue and gold for the long term.

Follow me on Twitter for NHL and Sabres news all season long: @SwordPlay18

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