With free agency just under a week away, the Tampa Bay Lightning decided to make a huge splash that could end up being beneficial to all the parties involved.
As was mentioned earlier NHL Rumors: Ryan Callahan Staying in Tampa (Updated, Callahan Signs) Tampa Bay made the first bold move of this offseason, signing the winger to a six-year, $34.8 million contract which has a limited no-trade clause. Crazy, possibly, but bad, not so fast.
Even though many, including a fellow writer of mine, feel the price may have been far more than what the player brings to the table it’s important to understand that the Lightning needed grit in order to truly be considered a Stanley Cup contender. Callahan brings that, and don’t think other teams fail to notice. In fact, some of them get so preoccupied with containing him and, in turn, leave guys like Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Steven Stamkos wide open to barrel untouched, then shoot a rocket past some unsuspecting netminder. In other words, extremely dangerous.
And while his goal-scoring may not be something to write home about, and the injuries are certainly a concern, there’s no mistaking the impression he left on those within the organization. Not long after being eliminated from the postseason, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper publicly stated he wanted Callahan to remain part of this team for as long as he’s the coach. Pretty strong words maybe, but further evidence of the brotherhood mentality he wants his team to have.
His playoff experience could come in handy as well, considering the Lightning have only seen the NHL postseason twice since 2007-08′. Put bluntly, Callahan likely has double the amount of big-league, pressure packed experience than his current teammates combined.
Some people have compared Callahan to the recently bought out Ryan Malone, but that may not be accurate. Yeah, he suffered a number of injuries and didn’t produce the way anyone expected upon being drafted by the New York Rangers, but then again nobody expected Valtteri Filppula to pan out last season after general manager Steve Yzerman signed him to a pretty large five-year contract. Filppula went on to post a career-high 25 goals to go along with 58 points and six power play tallies while centering the Lightning’s second line.
Yzerman’s always had a way of finding diamonds in the rough, and Callahan’s contract may end up being yet another example of that.