The New York Islanders have already started what should be an aggressive offseason by trading a 4th round pick to the Capitals for negotiating rights to goalie Jaroslav Halak, who is currently unsigned. If the Islanders sign Halak to a deal that would cross major need off their off-season list.
Another need the Islanders have is a top-six winger. One option the Islanders should really consider is signing Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ryan Callahan. Many know Callahan for his tenure with the New York Rangers where he was a captain for a few years, before being traded to the Lightning in exchange for Martin St. Louis at this year’s trading deadline. Callahan will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and here are a few reasons why the New York Islanders should look at him:
- Leadership and Experience: As I mentioned above, Callahan was the Rangers’ captain for a few seasons and was excellent in that role. Callahan would bring leadership to a young Islanders team. Every shift that Callahan plays he sacrifices his body and blocks a ton of shots. Although people say Callahan is injury prone, many of his injuries have occurred while he was sacrificing his body and doing dirty work along the boards. Callahan has also been in the playoffs a total of 6 times in his career, along with being in the Olympics 2 times for team USA.
- Penalty Killing: Callahan has been an excellent penalty killer throughout his career, which is an intangible that should intrigue the Islanders. Callahan is always good at dumping the puck into the corners, chasing it, and then keeping his man pinned against the boards to waste time. The Islanders had the 29th ranked penalty kill, and the Rangers had the 3rd ranked penalty kill, in large part due to Callahan, who significantly helped them in his half a year with the team. The Islanders would have three very good penalty killers in Casey Cizikas, Michael Grabner, and Ryan Callahan, which should help them improve their penalty killing ranking.
- Familiarity with Division: Ryan Callahan has been in the New York Islanders’ division for a long time. The division is filled with physical teams such as the Rangers, Penguins, and Flyers so having a leader who has a lot of experience playing against these teams would be a big help.
Callahan would be an excellent fit for the Islanders but only if the price is right. Before he was dealt, he was asking the Rangers for around $6.5 million a year. This would be way too much for the Islanders to pay as they have too many other holes that need to be filled. If the Islanders can get Callahan’s price to to about $4 million for four years, his signing should be a no-brainer for General Manager Garth Snow. Callahan’s leadership would be invaluable to a young team like the Islanders, and at 29 years old, he puts up a decent amount of points. Callahan plays with a ton of heart and soul which the New York Islanders can use this upcoming season.