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NHL rumors: Lightning want to keep Ryan Callahan

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

Ryan Callahan is a free agent this summer. (Getty Images)
Ryan Callahan is a free agent this summer. (Getty Images)

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Ryan Callahan was made available at the trade deadline by the New York Rangers because he and his (now former) team couldn't find much common ground on a contract extension. The biggest issue in the end was reportedly a no-trade clause; Callahan wanted one, the Rangers didn't.

So on the morning of the deadline, the Rangers and Lightning pulled off the biggest deal of the day with Callahan going to Tampa Bay with some draft picks for Martin St. Louis. Some wondered if it was just the Lightning getting what they could for a disgruntled player and if they were content to "rent" Callahan for the rest of the season, especially given his reported asking price of around $6 million per season.

It would appear that no, the Lightning aren't interested in just a rental, they want to keep Cally around for a while per Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com.

The pending UFA's agent, the veteran Steve Bartlett, told ESPN.com Tuesday that he chatted with Steve Yzerman in Buffalo over the past weekend, at which point the Bolts GM made it clear they'd like to talk extension after the season.

Yzerman, also reached Tuesday, said for now the focus is on hockey, on making the playoffs and on doing well in the playoffs. The GM will focus on Callahan's future later.

"He's just going to play hockey and we'll talk when the season's over," Yzerman told ESPN.com.

One advantage to future negotiations is that there should be a pretty good idea of where they should start. Because of what Callahan went through with the Rangers, his demands should be pretty clear and the Lightning would presumably know what they're getting in to. It would seem, then, that they're OK with getting near the asking price Callahan had and probably that no-trade clause.

It's not hard to see why Yzerman would be interested in keeping Callahan in Tampa Bay either. Entering Tuesday, Callahan had five goals and four assists in 13 games with the Lightning, playing more than 20 minutes eight of those games. So far it's been a good relationship, or at least a productive one.

From the sounds of it, trying to re-sign Callahan will be top priority for the Lightning when this season wraps up.

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