The trade freeze will be lifted once the Olympic Games come to a close, but NHL teams are allowed to negotiate extensions with players during the Sochi break.
With that in mind, it is time to get talking. After the Sochi Games, the Rangers will resume NHL action on February 27 vs. the Chicago Blackhawks. A couple of days later on March 5 at 3 p.m. EST, the NHL trade deadline will go into effect.
The Rangers need to make decisions on Callahan and Girardi before the Olympics end because they won't have much time to deal them if contract extensions are not reached.
There has been no dialogue over the Olympic break between the Rangers and pending free agent defenseman Dan Girardi. Discussions and negotiations are expected to resume next week prior to the Blueshirts’ first practice session on Feb. 20.
This is not surprising because Girardi likely wants to enjoy the break and it has even been reported that there is a deal to be made. Back on February 7, Darren Dreger of TSN.ca tweeted the following about the situation:
Provided Girardi isn't focused on testing ufa market...deal to be made with NYR. Girardi\Callahan could both be traded if focus is July 1.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) February 7, 2014
This makes a lot of sense, as Brooks reported in late January that the Rangers have made multiple offers to Girardi and at this point the puck is in his end.
The situation with Callahan is more delicate, which is why general manager Glen Sather needs to make a decision about his captain very soon. Callahan's demands are outrageous and there is no way Sather will meet them.
Katie Strang of ESPNNewYork.com revealed what Callahan is looking for and what the Rangers are offering:
The two sides have yet to come to terms on an agreement, with the Rangers offering Callahan a five-year deal worth $30 million and Callahan's camp reportedly seeking a seven-year pact worth between $6.5 and $7 million a year.
However, his asking price could scare off some potential buyers, which could limit his value in a potential return for the Rangers. This is where the situation gets interesting, and where Sather's ability to read the situation will be vital.
In the next few days, he needs to decipher what Callahan's true demands would be to remain the captain of the Rangers. Once he gets that number, he needs to determine if it is palatable as it relates to the salary cap.
What will happen in this situation?
If that number doesn't mesh with Sather and Co.'s spreadsheets, Callahan should be dealt for the best possible return.
However, could Sather play the odds, keep Callahan for the playoffs and then flip him at the draft?
By the draft, Callahan's demands could be significantly lower and there could be a team willing to trade for his rights. No matter how you slice it, it is a huge gamble because Sather could end up losing him for nothing or getting a terrible return.
Regardless of these scenarios, a decision needs to be made.
Sather needs to prepare some final offers that ultimately protect the Rangers' best interests. If he is rebuffed, he needs to turn the page and finalize a trade by working the phones.
This is a situation where Sather can't get personal because he is going to need the cap space to re-sign other key players. Callahan and Girardi have been key parts in the past, but if they ask for too much, it is time to move on from them.
The Rangers entered the break as one of the NHL's hottest teams and Sather arguably wants to improve his roster. If this is the type of team the Rangers would be during the playoffs, chances are they could go far. But the Rangers need to be careful not to stand pat like they did in 2011-12.
The Blueshirts were a red-hot team, but failed to make any significant changes before falling short in the Eastern Conference Final. This year's team is not like 2011-12's, but it should learn from past mistakes.
Given the amount of players up for new contracts next season, the Rangers can make a big move for the Cup and retool the roster after the season ends. It is something Sather will need to consider when negotiating with Callahan and Girardi because the clock is ticking.