Ryan Callahan Tampa Bay Lightning
(Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

The New York Rangers could be asked to take a contract to facilitate an Erik Karlsson trade. What should they ask for to do it?

The New York Rangers are in territory that has been unfamiliar in recent years. In a rebuild (which could be long, according to ESNY’s Dominick Renna), the team is focused on young talent and has some extra salary cap space. According to CapFriendly, they have almost $24 million in available space and didn’t use a significant portion in the early stages of free agency.

Many teams that are rebuilding and don’t plan on contending for several years will add a contract that a team wants to get rid of, and will also get draft picks and/or prospects for their trouble. The Rangers could follow that path, as TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that the team could be involved in a potential trade between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Ottawa Senators.

As Dreger says, Ryan Callahan is the most likely option to come to the Rangers. The former Rangers captain was traded to Tampa Bay in 2015 for Martin St. Louis. He signed a six-year contract with Tampa Bay with a $5.8 million cap hit, of which two years remain.

The Rangers could absorb those final two years, as they are probably two or three years away from returning to contending status. Another option could be Bobby Ryan of the Senators, but he has four years left at $7.25 million and should be avoided due to the length of that cap hit.

ESNY’s Frank Curto argues that the Rangers should not help the Lightning by taking Callahan’s contract. However, the Rangers could also help themselves by taking it, assuming that they are able to get enough to make it worthwhile. With the team in a rebuild, that should be the primary, and frankly only concern.

The Rangers aren’t going to get any future superstars for bringing Callahan back. As much as everyone would love to see the Rangers get Brayden Point or Thomas Chabot that’s too much for the Lighting or Senators to give up. While Callahan has a high cap hit, it’s not outrageously high and it isn’t long enough to have a chance at handcuffing the Rangers salary cap for years to come.

So that brings us to what a realistic trade could look like for the Rangers.

Rangers Trade Away

  • 2019 seventh-round draft pick (to Senators)

The Rangers would send this pick to the Senators simply because they need to trade something away to be involved in the trade. Losing a seventh-round pick won’t hurt at all.

Rangers Receive

  • Ryan Callahan
  • Yanni Gourde
  • 2019 third-round pick (from Penguins, via Senators)
  • Conditional 2019 sixth-round pick (Lightning), becomes a 2019 fourth-round pick if Tampa Bay wins the Stanley Cup.
  • The Lighting drop the condition on their second-round pick that the Rangers have in 2019, making it a first round pick regardless of whether the Lightning win the Stanley Cup or not.

This return would make it worth the headache of Callahan’s cap hit for Jeff Gorton and company. Guaranteeing the first rounder is huge, as only one team can win the Stanley Cup every year. Although it will likely be a late first-round pick, that’s still a significant upgrade over a late second rounder.

Getting the third-round pick from the Senators gives the Rangers a chance to add another impact player (remember, Pavel Buchnevich was a third-round pick. If a team is good at scouting, mid-round draft picks are very valuable).

The conditional sixth-round pick, although it may seem unimportant, can be used as a trade chip in a package to move up in the draft. Additionally, extra draft picks never hurt a team, and you never know when you may find a player like Henrik Lundqvist late in the draft.

That brings us to Yanni Gourde. Gourde had a very good season, finishing sixth in the Calder Trophy voting as he produced 25 goals and 64 points in his first full season.

He is older for a rookie, having turned 26 in December of last season. His numbers were also inflated somewhat by playing on a very strong Lightning team. Much like Vladislav Namestnikov, he’s probably a 45-50 point producer on most teams, placing him in a middle six role.

However, with the Rangers giving up nothing except cap space that they weren’t going to use anyway (and a seventh-round draft pick), that’s a very good return on investment. For such a small cost, getting a player that can help your team or be used as a trade chip is a smart move.

While helping another team win the Stanley Cup can be hard to swallow, this move would make it worthwhile for the Rangers to do so.

I'm a student at Binghamton University. I'm a huge fan of the Mets, Rangers, Giants, and Jets, and will be covering them for the site, as well as fantasy hockey, football, and baseball. My twitter is @wmcine


  1. Don’t agree with your choice of player. Why would we want a 26 year old when we are building for 2-3 years down the road? Sorry but that doesn’t make any sense to me. Draft picks and players between 21-24 is more like it.

    • Because when building trades one also needs to look at what the other team will realistically send to you. 26 is not old, and you can trade Gourde at the deadline, or extend him if you want to. I know you want Point and so do I, they won’t give us Point for a salary dump. If they weren’t willing to move him for McDonagh they aren’t going to move him in a cap move.

  2. Why should the Rangers take Calliahan in the first place? The team wasn’t willing to pay him what TB gave him 5 years when he hit free agency, which is a part of the reason he was traded in the first place.
    Now Callahan is older, and banged up. He would miss the start of the season because of his shoulder problem. He is not worth $5.8M to be a 3rd line wing.
    If TB and Ottawa need the Rangers to eat cap space, the players they need to start talking are not Callahan or Ryan, which is even sillier. Point, Johnson, Palat, are players TB need to add in the deal. Not all three, but at least one of them, and the 1st round pick to go with there 2nd that we already have.
    If the Rangers are going to be involved, why should they settle for some mid to late draft picks? TB and Ottawa are the ones without the cap space to get a deal done. If they want the help of the Rangers, they have got to do a hell of a lot better.

    • They should take Callahan to get other pieces that will help them. The Rangers aren’t going to compete until Callahan’s contract is off the books, nor will they be pushing the top end of the salary cap up to that point. Getting Callahan isn’t the important part.

      Secondly, the Senators absolutely have the cap space to absorb Callahan. They have $17M in space entering the year with Karlsson on their books. Their owner doesn’t want to pay Callahan but if it comes to paying him or losing Karlsson for nothing as a free agent, he’ll pay Callahan. Especially if Tampa sends cash in the deal.
      Lastly, you’re not getting a player like Point or Johnson for a salary dump for a player with two years left.Gourde is both realistic and a solid piece to add for not much cost.

  3. The thing is… The Rangers don’t need to be in on this deal.
    If TB needs cap space to get Karlsson, one of the best hockey players in the world, and to become an even better team, that is their problem. TB signed Callahan to a bloated contract that the Rangers weren’t going to give him, and now it’s biting them in the ass.
    If Karlsson has become an issue in Ottawa because they don’t want or can’t afford to sign Karlsson to an 11+M extension next season & the recent problems with Hoffman are embarrassing for them… That’s the Sens problem.
    Both TB & Ottawa need the Rangers to make this trade happen more then the Rangers need to be a part of it. If both team aren’t offering better, then the Rangers can walk away, and let the Devils or another team except it.
    The idea that the Rangers have cap space and should settle for what’s offered in Callahan, and what’s thrown in is crazy. They would pay 5.8M for a player who isn’t worth it. That takes away money for players they need to sign (RFA’s this and next year, and possible UFA’s next year) and it takes a spot on the roster from another player. With the amount of cap space they have, why waste it?
    The ‘Yotes just got players and picks just to get the Hawks out from under Hossa’s contract. That was a salary dump.
    Under the scenario given, TB becomes an even stronger Stanley Cup contender, Ottawa speeds up their rebuild, with what they recieve, and the Rangers wind up with some door prizes by helping them both.
    If the Rangers are going to be in on this, they need to be getting more then mid & late round draft picks along with an overpriced older 3rd line wing, and maybe a decent prospect. Maybe they won’t get Point, but they can get a player better than Callahan and higher picks.

    • You’re way to focused on Callahan’s deal. The Rangers have no RFA players over the next two years that are going to command big salaries except maybe Skjei, and Callahan’s cap hit won’t prevent the team from paying him. Zuccarello as a UFA won’t get a big raise, Hayes won’t see a huge raise, and nobody else’s salary will even come close to being threatened by Callahan.

      You point to the Arizona-Chicago trade, so let’s break it down. Hinostroza has never topped 25 points and is only two years younger than Gourde. Give me Gourde over someone who’s two years younger but hasn’t shown he can do it above a fourth line level.

      Oesterle is 26 and has hit double digit points once. He’s a seventh defenseman on a contending team (picture Nick Holden). Not someone worth much of anything.

      And lastly Arizona got a third round pick (which we would get in the trade I proposed).

      So it’s essentially a fourth liner, a seventh Dman, and one mid round pick


      A middle six player, one mid round pick, a guarantee on a first round pick, and a late pick that can become a mid round pick.

      Plus we don’t have to give up anything other than a seventh round pick, while Arizona gave up 4 players and a 5th round pick. The Rangers would be getting more than Arizona did while giving up less.