- Pierre LeBrun, NHL
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The buzz just won't go away around the hockey industry when it comes to Ryan Callahan's future.
Rangers GM Glen Sather last week began calling teams around the league asking them about possible interest in case he couldn't get his captain re-signed. Once you start making calls, that information starts to leak out, which it did earlier this week.
Still, I've had a mixed response around the league on the subject.
Two Western Conference executives I traded texts with on Thursday afternoon believed Sather's priority was still to re-sign Callahan and that he was simply calling around "to give himself options for Plan B," one executive said. Perhaps, not to mention put pressure on Callahan to step down from his contract stance, believed to be in the seven-year range and around $6 million a year. A source also told ESPNNewYork.com's Katie Strang that Sather would not be opposed to trading Callahan within the Eastern Conference, either.
Callahan's veteran agent, Steve Bartlett, who would not get into any specifics in terms of contract talks, certainly is well aware of what's going on.
"Right now, we only have one team we can negotiate with and we're trying to do that in good faith," Bartlett told ESPN.com on Friday. "I always retain hope that something can get done. But if it doesn't, that's the business. I never tell a GM if he's right or wrong, I just present what I believe is right for my client."
Clearly, though, the Rangers are concerned about Callahan's durability and insist they won't sign for that long. Therefore, the Rangers are telling teams they will move Callahan by March 5 if he isn't re-signed.
My TSN colleague Darren Dreger on Friday morning tweeted that the Rangers were getting "intel" on Blues winger Chris Stewart, suggesting obviously that the Blues and Rangers had touched base on Callahan. Who knows if there's even a chance this happens but for one, the math on the cap would work: Stewart at a $4.15 million cap hit, Callahan at $4.275 million.
A Blues source I traded texts with refused to comment whatsoever on any possible interest in Callahan.
But let's face it, if the Rangers do indeed step up their trade plans on Callahan, many of the obvious contenders would at least inquire further.
Don't judge Seguin deal just yet
Tyler Seguin is having a monster season in Dallas and that has put a bit of pressure on the Boston front office for its decision to trade him last summer.
But I think it's unfair to already be calling this a bad deal. I don't think that's true.
Yes, Loui Eriksson has struggled this season but he's had two concussions. Name me a player who wouldn't be affected by that. Let's judge him come playoff time or next season, after he's fully recovered. I think we'll see the Eriksson of old before too long.
Further, let's also remember one of the other players Boston got in the deal: Reilly Smith. You know, the 22-year-old winger who leads the Bruins with 18 goals and is second on the team with 40 points? His production might be surprising to many, given his three goals and six assists last season in Dallas, but the Bruins had identified him last summer as a player they wanted in that trade.
"He was one of their top prospects and we knew he'd be a good NHL player," Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli told ESPN.com this week. "We needed more than one piece."
Smith put up strong offensive numbers in college but the question was whether he was a good enough skater to bring that production up to the NHL level.
"He's a very crafty player," Chiarelli said. "He's very skilled and smart. His pace in college was enough to really succeed. We knew he'd be a good player, he's somebody that would need to get a little stronger and faster, but his skill was unquestionable. He was just feeling his way his first year in Dallas."
"He really competes and that's where he's been really good for us," the Bruins GM said. "I told him in the summer, 'If you compete here with your skill, then you'll be fine. Doesn't mean you have to crash and bang, just means you have to battle for pucks.' And that's what he's done."
Listen, I don't think there's any question Stars GM Jim Nill made the perfect decision in getting Seguin to Dallas, where he could flourish under less expectation and develop at center as a true star. But at the end of the day, there's a chance this deal worked out fairly for both teams when you look at all the components involved.
Don't kid yourself, Bernier is Leafs' No. 1
Leafs coach Randy Carlyle might have to be held over hot coals to ever admit it publicly, but we'll let his actions speak for him: Jonathan Bernier has officially taken the No. 1 goalie job in Toronto.
The first half of the season saw a healthy competition between Bernier and incumbent James Reimer, but with Bernier having started 14 of the past 18 games, and looked terrific in doing so, it's clear that battle in the Toronto net is over.
Bernier wanted a trade out of Los Angeles so he could escape Jonathan Quick's stranglehold on the No. 1 job and have a chance elsewhere at such a position. It took a while, but he's finally got it for the first time in his career.
He's the man.
"When I got traded, I knew that was my chance to prove what I can do in this league," Bernier told a group of us media types Wednesday after practice. "My main focus was always to be a No. 1 guy and I've still got a lot to learn, but I think I'm moving towards that."
Bernier's .926 save percentage is among the league leaders, but what he's also shown to his coach over the past month is that he can handle a heavy workload like a No. 1 is supposed to.
"I knew Randy, the type of coach he was," Bernier said. "I knew I had to really battle to earn [the job], which is the good way. You don't want anything for free in life. [But] I didn't really focus on how many games I was playing, I think I was just focusing on getting better every day and every game, and it just worked out that I started playing good and he kept me in."