Ryan Callahan is going to miss the next four to six weeks due to a Grade 2 MCL sprain, and the news is doubly bad for New York Rangers fans.
For starters, the team will be without its captain for a key number of games, and this recent injury should cause Glen Sather to think twice about re-signing the 28-year-old Rochester, NY native.
It was reported by Larry Brooks of the New York Post that Callahan could get a massive contract based on what David Clarkson received last summer, but this latest development should make the Blueshirts cautious about re-signing their captain.
While I am not advocating that the Rangers let Callahan walk away, they should be very tentative in their offer to a player that has essentially become Chris Drury 2.0. Both players are similar in size, playing style and what they bring to the table in terms of intangibles.
Callahan is in the NHL because he is an effective grinder and defensive player. He is a skilled shot blocker and forechecker, not an elite goal scorer. This style of play will lead to Callahan suffering more injuries, and therefore it will render him useless to the Rangers.
If they do re-sign him, he will need to reinvent himself, and it will have to be at a reduced figure; one much lower than the figure Brooks hinted at.
If Sather foolishly gives Callahan a multi-year deal worth at least $6.0 million a year, he will be repeating history and taking on a similar contract that he had to buyout two years ago.
On July 1, 2007, the Rangers signed Drury to a five-year, $35.25 million contract, one that was and still is highly criticized. It should be noted that Drury had a history of success and production that warranted a high asking price, but Sather overpaid for some of the intangibles he brought to the table.
This included his leadership ability, his clutch-ness and his ability to play an effective and physical two-way game.
If you add seven years to the date, history could be repeated. Throughout his career to date, Callahan has been known for similar qualities.
To further hammer home the point, here is a tale of the tape between Drury and Callahan.
|Tale of The Tape: Ryan Callahan vs. Chris Drury|
|Player||Size||Games||AVG Games Per Season||PIMS||Goals||Assists||Points||PPG|
|Ryan Callahan||5'11", 190 lbs.||429||61||262||128||114||242||0.56|
|Chris Drury||5'10", 190 lbs.||892||74||468||255||360||615||0.69|
Callahan is currently 28, and he will turn 29 in March. Drury retired at age 34, but his game started to drop off after he left the Buffalo Sabres at age 30. As you can see by the numbers, there are already some similarities between the two players.
Keep in mind that these numbers reflect Drury having played in 463 more games than Callahan, but in terms of style of play the two are very similar. Drury was more durable during his early career, unlike Callahan, but he started breaking down as he got older.
Callahan is only 28, but he is a lot more fragile than Drury ever was. In addition, Callahan is a shade less offensive than Drury, but he is just as physical and defensive minded as the former Sabre.
There is no reason to believe, and there is no evidence to suggest that years 29 on will be any better for Callahan and, for that reason, the Blueshirts need to think long and hard about retaining his services.
This is familiar territory for the Rangers, and they should learn from their prior mistake. When Callahan was being groomed to become the Rangers' next captain, there were many comparisons struck between him and Drury. The current Rangers captain even admitted he learned a lot from the Trumbull, Conn native.
Via Jesse Spector, former beat writer of Rangers at the New York Daily News:
On lessons learned from Drury: The way he approaches the game, and the way he was so professional on and off the ice, the way he carried himself. He never got too high, never got too low, and he was always in the room with an even keel, and at times, if he needed to be emotional with the team, he would be. He approached the game the same way every night.
At this point Callahan is on a rapid decline, and no one should be surprised. He is a black and Blueshirt that throws caution to the wind while on the ice, and his style of play has prevented him from completing a full NHL season healthy.
Here is a list of Callahan's most recent injuries, and the subsequent time he missed.
|Ryan Callahan's Injury History|
|Sprained MCL||2013-14||Estimated 4-6 Weeks|
|Broken Thumb||2013-14||7 Games|
|Shoulder Surgery||2013-14||1 Game|
|Shoulder Injury||2012-13||3 Games|
|Bruised Foot||2011-12||6 Games|
|Broken Leg||2010-11||2 Regular Season Games, Entire NHL Playoffs|
|Broken Hand||2010-11||19 Games|
|Leg Injury||2009-10||4 Games|
|Neck Injury||2009-10||1 Game|
|The Hockey News|
This is a serious amount of damage to multiple areas of the body for a player not even 30, and it should make management think twice about re-signing him.
While Callahan has been a great player and leader for the Rangers, it appears his time could be coming to an end. The current Rangers' squad has been called out numerous times by the Captain, yet the team has failed to respond.
A lackluster 15-16-1 record is unacceptable for the Rangers, and something needs to change soon. If Callahan can come back healthy, it might be worthwhile trading him. It is no secret that teams could overpay for him in free agency, and the Rangers need to address a number of things during free agency.
Head coach Alain Vigneault has already said that he doesn't have the players he needs to be successful, and that statement could force Sather to start making moves. Callahan is a fan favorite. He was a key member of past Blueshirt teams, but his future is all but predicted.
He is not going to turn into a 30-goal scorer, and he is unlikely to accomplish that because of his all-out style that leaves him vulnerable to injuries.
Vigneault has been able to utilize players like Callahan in the past, but it will only be worth the team's while if Callahan re-signs at a reasonable rate, and if he can prove to be healthy.
Callahan was a great player for the Rangers, and one that has exceeded all expectations to date, but the team will have a tough decision this July.