NHL rumors: Ryan Callahan's name enters the rumor mill

Callahan is a UFA at the end of this season. (Getty Images)
Callahan is a UFA at the end of this season. (Getty Images)

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With the trade deadline getting closer and closer (and the roster freeze just a little more than a week away), names keeping making their way into the rumor mill, names that surprise. Rangers captain Ryan Callahan fits that mold.

Indeed, the name Ryan Callahan and word "trade" have been mentioned together by ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun.

Callahan is an unrestricted free agent after this season and so far the negotiations between he and the Rangers haven't been very productive. That has resulted in GM Glen Sather doing what any responsible GM would do; explore the possibilities.

All of which led to some rumblings that the Rangers are exploring the trade market in case talks don’t produce a contract extension before the March 5 trade deadline. My colleague Darren Dreger also reported on Callahan’s trade possibility during our Insider Trading segment Tuesday evening on TSN in Canada.

You can imagine the reaction when Rangers GM Glen Sather called some teams over the past week to inform them that Callahan might be available.

"That’s a pretty big name," one Western Conference source said.

So before you get all excited (or scared if you're a Rangers fan), this sounds more precautionary than anything, that Sather is doing his due diligence by shoring up all of his options. Perhaps it might even be enough to kickstart negotiations between the two and get Callahan a new deal before the deadline comes, or at least to make headway in that direction.

However, if that March 5 deadline nears without Callahan getting an extension or reports of a deal being worked on, it could be a nerve-racking time for New York fans. The Rangers have really turned it on and are looking like a team that can jump into the conversation of true contenders. Disrupting that by dealing Callahan would be something Sather would like to avoid at all costs you'd figure. But risking a player like Callahan walking away at the end of the season for nothing would be awfully tough to deal with.

Callahan will be joining Team USA in Sochi before the trade deadline. He hasn't had the most productive season with nine goals and 11 assists in just 37 games this season but everybody knows what Callahan brings in terms of a defensive, fearless forward and from a leadership standpoint in addition to his offensive potential. If push comes to shove, there would probably be plenty of teams trying to figure out how to make room for Callahan.

It seems very unlikely -- you have to think Callahan and the Rangers will find a deal -- but stranger things have happened and the lack of a contract at this point is a real concern.

By the way, the Rangers could be in the same exact predicament with defenseman Dan Girardi. So Sather is going to be a guy to watch closely around the deadline. In other words, it will be just like most trade deadlines.

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