No progress on Callahan deal

February, 26, 2014
Feb 26
10:25
AM ET
NEW YORK -- With one week remaining until the NHL’s March 5 trade deadline, there has been no progress toward a contract extension for Rangers captain Ryan Callahan.

In fact, the two sides did not speak at all during the Olympic break, Callahan’s agent Steve Bartlett confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com when reached by phone Wednesday morning.

 

While that is not altogether surprising given Callahan played for the U.S. team and Bartlett joined his client in Sochi, Russia, for a portion of the time, it will do nothing to dampen the speculation that the pending unrestricted free agent may be traded.

Tuesday night, TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that there was a "99 percent chance" that Callahan is moved.

Bartlett said he plans to touch base with the club in the next few days, which should provide a gauge of where the situation is headed.

“I haven’t talked to them since before the Olympics,” Bartlett said. “There’s really been no dialogue since I left. Either we talk this week or it’ll be pretty clear what direction they’ve decided to take.”

Bartlett said it was “a little disappointing” that there hasn’t been more dialogue, but that he understands the nature of the business.

“They are certainly within their rights to do what is best for the team,” he said. “I’m not going to speculate what they will or won’t do.”

Callahan, who turns 29 on March 21, is reportedly seeking a seven-year deal worth between $6.5 and $7 million dollars, and though Bartlett does not discuss specific numbers, he feels that Callahan’s asking price is within fair market value.

The Rangers, however, are believed to be balking at the term. That’s not surprising given Callahan’s durability issues, a function of his relentless, physical style of play.

Despite what appears to be a significant impasse and a narrow window of time to get a deal done, Callahan has repeatedly stated his intention to remain with the Rangers.

He re-affirmed that notion Wednesday after practice when asked if his desire to remain a Ranger had changed any since Olympic break:

"No. Everything is the same as it was."

Callahan declined to discuss the potential of a trade further.

Bartlett has not given up hope that something can get done

“I continue to stay upbeat and positive. Our first choice is to make a deal with the Rangers, but if it goes in the other direction, I’m not going to throw up the white flag,” Bartlett said. “I’m not saying I’m inflexible ... my job is to help [Callahan] decide what fair market value is and help him make the best decision.”

Though the Rangers granted multiple teams permission to speak with Bartlett before the Olympic break, Callahan’s camp has had no such discussions recently. It is unlikely for that to happen unless the Rangers are seriously entertaining a viable offer and a team wants to explore the possibility of locking up Callahan long term.

The Rangers also have another high-profile unrestricted free agent in defenseman Dan Girardi, who may also be dealt at the deadline if no agreement is forged on a new pact in the next week.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault admitted that it has been difficult having three of the team's premier players -- Callahan, Girardi and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist -- go through protracted contract negotiations during the season.

"Having those guys go through this has been a bit challenging," Vigneault said.
Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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