Here’s my unedited story from The Journal News and Lohud.com:
By Rick Carpiniello
One down, one to go. But will the other one to go be literally gone?
The Rangers signed one of their two major unrestricted free agents-to-be on Friday, nailing down a very fair six-year extension for defenseman Dan Girardi.
Girardi, originally signed by GM Glen Sather as an undrafted free agent, agreed to a $33 million deal ($5.5 million annual average and cap hit) with a reported no-move clause for the first three years and a modified no-trade clause for the final three.
That takes Girardi, 29, out of the trade rumors and keeps him on the first, shutdown pair with Ryan McDonagh – who signed a six-year extension worth $4.7 million per prior to the season.
Meanwhile, as Girardi negotiated to a fair number he might have been able to top if he’d waited to hit the open market, Rangers captain Ryan Callahan remains unsigned and very likely to be dealt before the trade deadline Wednesday at 3 p.m.
Callahan’s agent Steve Bartlett reportedly said Friday that Girardi’s signing has no impact on his client’s bargaining. Well, that might be true, but the Rangers surely know now that Callahan’s not budging off of his seven-year demand at what is believed to be just under $7M per, and they surely know they will not go to that term or that dollar figure.
So it is very likely that Sather, a known hardball negotiator, will make every attempt to get something in return for his captain before letting him walk away for free July 1. And Sather probably won’t stop there trying to remake on the fly a team that, while it may not be a true Cup contender, is certainly one of the top three in the East.
As for tying up Girardi, Sather said in a statement, “Dan has been a Ranger for his entire career, signing with us as an undrafted free agent and working his way to become a top defenseman in the NHL. His dedication to this club, as a leader both on the ice and in the locker room, is invaluable to this team. We are happy to have been able to ensure that he will continue to wear the Blueshirt.”
Sather understood that, if he lost Girardi, it would probably cost more than the $5.5 per to replace him, and that even for more money, that replacement might not be able to do what the sturdy, right-handed, heart-and-soul, shutdown defenseman brings every night. He has missed four games in his eight NHL seasons, while regularly being among the league leaders in minutes (against opponent’s top forwards, it should be noted) and blocked shots.
The next projects on defense are Marc Staal, who enters his final year next season, and his partner on defense, Anton Stralman, who can be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Callahan, armed with the knowledge of the crazy contracts players like Ryane Clowe and David Clarkson received last summer, no doubt believes he can get his $47-$49 million over seven years in July. He might be correct.
We will soon know if that demand is his ticket out of town.
Photo by Getty Images.