TSN Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger have the latest on the future of Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi with the Rangers, the market for Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller and what happens if Lightning star Steven Stamkos isn't ready for Sochi.
What are the New York Rangers likely to do with impending free agents Dan Girardi and captain Ryan Callahan? Will Dan Boyle be extended like San Jose Sharks teammates Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton?
Dreger: They're gauging interest in Ryan Callahan and I know that's going to be a big surprise to Rangers fans out there. There's been much speculation because of the significance of the signing of those two players, but I'm told that Rangers general manager Glen Sather has reached out to a number of general managers and he is gauging trade interest on Callahan, less so on Girardi.
I know there's a lot of interest in Girardi, but the sense is that the Rangers are more comfortable or, at least, more confident that they'll get Girardi signed.
Bob McKenzie: It's my understanding that if the Rangers do not sign Callahan and/or Girardi by the trade deadline, they are determined to trade one or both of them, whichever guy is not signed. Even though they're very much in the playoff picture, they realize they're not a Cup contender and they're not going to let one or both of these guys walk in the summer for absolutely nothing.
The other aspect that's interesting with negotiations is that Girardi and Callahan are both looking for long-term deals. Girardi is going to be 30 years old in the summer and he's looking for a seven-year deal with Jay Bouwmeester-type money, up around $5.4 million per season. As for Callahan, the captain of the Rangers, he wants a seven-year deal believed to be at more than $6 million a year. These guys will get that in unrestricted free agency, so the term is a concern for the New York Rangers.
LeBrun: Term and age are pretty much what they're talking about in San Jose with Dan Boyle. It didn't go unnoticed that when Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton - who are 34 - signed their extensions last Friday, Boyle remained unsigned. He's 37 and he's in that 35-and-over club that, if he signs a long-term deal, it counts against the cap, regardless. So the Sharks would rather do a one-year deal, but I think Boyle wants a two-year deal. Keep an eye on where that one goes.
Is there a market for Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller?
McKenzie: It's not a hot market and it's not a cold market. It's lukewarm at best. There is some interest in Ryan Miller. The Minnesota Wild haven't made an offer, but they're waiting to see what happens with Josh Harding's health situation. The St. Louis Blues might have some lukewarm interest. Right now, as far as Ryan Miller goes, I wouldn't say it's frontburner, but they're trying to trade him.
Are we going to see some kind of mini-trade deadline prior to the freeze on February 7?
LeBrun: What's happened this week is that I've had teams tell me that the bubble teams have started to send their lists out and say "If we pull the plug right before the Olympic break, here is the list of players that we're willing to move," so keep that in mind. But those bubble teams are also using these next 10 days to determine their performance and see if they're still in it and if they're buyers or sellers, so those two days right before the break could be interesting.
If Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos can't go to Sochi, who might step in for Team Canada?
Darren Dreger: It's a relatively short list. There are at least two, maybe three players…four or five, if you really want to scratch beneath the surface and try to find a true replacement, if necessary, for Steven Stamkos. You're looking at names like Claude Giroux or, perhaps, James Neal of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The primary reason for that is because you need that sniper-type quality that Steven Stamkos possesses, so in those two players, you definitely get that, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Jeff Carter elevate up the line-up and he start on the wing with Sidney Crosby, as well, as a good replacement, if not, a second option for Babcock and the coaching staff.
Pierre LeBrun: You can't discount the possibility of Martin St. Louis, given the month that he's had, and also, Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes. The reality is, Team Canada had a call last week and went over all of their injury replacements. They have a pretty good idea, but they haven't made official who'd be that one guy if Stamkos can't play because, right now, they think he is that guy.
With six outdoor games this year, how many are planned for next year and beyond?
Dreger: I would say four at the most for next year, certainly two, because you've got the Winter Classic, that's not going anywhere, and perhaps, the Heritage Classic. But the sense from both the NHLPA and the NHL is that four seems to be the right number. The ice crew that has put the rink together at Yankee Stadium has been taxed beyond belief and there will be a total of six this year and that's a little bit much, so four seems to be the likely number.