While we hold our breath waiting for the next USA Men’s Ice Hockey matchup, the lingering debate is over whether or not to trade Ryan Callahan. I see surprisingly little in support of keeping him, and here I beg to differ. “Captain Cally” has not only proven his worth day in and day out for the New York Rangers, but now demonstrates that same rare and indispensable leadership for Team USA.
For the so far undefeated Americans, Callahan has consistently been first in on the fore check, and the one player to ALWAYS finish his checks. You can watch him do this repeatedly even though there is now a 15 feet wider ice surface in the Olympic tournament. He has also chipped in an assist and been a rock on the penalty kill. These qualities are not only difficult to replace, they are near impossible; particularly if a team also wants this same player to pop in goals at a 20 or even 30 goal a year rate.
When the Rangers were oh so close to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012, the thinking was they needed one more player, or scorer to go all the way. When the Rangers traded or let go of their core bevy of hard-working, fore-checking dynamos in Brandon Prust, Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky, and Ruslan Fedotenko, the general consensus was that the team had given up too much grit and too much down low pressure.
This is now the same situation. Yes, Callahan may return some draft picks, or a decent player. What the Rangers would need in return is Ryan Callahan, or a player like Callahan. Without a guarantee of this, I say the team gets worse immediately with his departure. A slew of great picks could come our way; some say. No knock against our first round pickups, Derick Brassard, John Moore, Michael Del Zotto (now gone), and Dylan McIlrath (hey that Cam Fowler is a keeper isn’t he?), but getting a high pick doesn’t guarantee that the one player will be the cure for all that woes the team.
Look elsewhere to stock the team with future Rangers, or quick fixes. Free agency will have some diamonds to choose from. Leave Ryan Callahan where he belongs as Captain of the only team he has ever fought for, his home state’s team, the New York Rangers.