Each day from now until July 1, the day free agency begins, Sarah Baicker and Tim Riday will profile some of the NHL's top impending free agents and project their likelihood of signing with the Flyers.
Ryan Callahan, right wing
Last team: Tampa Bay Lightning
2013-14 cap hit: $4.275 million
One of the greatest leaders in all of hockey, Callahan is the type of player every NHL general manager wants in his team's locker room. The Rochester, New York native is a tenacious forechecker and one of the hardest working forwards in the league. He doesn't have great size, but he's not afraid to get dirty and battle in the corners or in front of the net. He's a tremendous penalty killer and can also contribute on the power play on occasion. Another key asset is his ability to play both wing positions.
Callahan, who fell just short of a gold medal with Team USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, was selected with the 127th pick in the fourth round of the 2004 NHL draft by the New York Rangers. In his ninth season on Broadway, he was shipped to Tampa along with two draft picks in exchange for Martin St. Louis at the 2014 trade deadline. Callahan was reportedly asking for a six-year, $39 million contract from the Rangers, but talks stalled and the team decided to move on.
Callahan is a nice idea in theory, but I don't think the Flyers are or should be interested in him. He's got the leadership qualities and veteran status that would have made him more appealing had the Flyers not re-signed Kimmo Timonen last week. And when you look at the team's needs, a veteran right wing who made more than $4 million last season just doesn't make sense. The Flyers need help on defense and they could use a top-tier left wing. As appealing as yet another 20-goal scorer might be, I say they look elsewhere if they really do want to bring in extra help on offense. More of a third-line kind of guy (when compared to the Flyers' roster, anyway), Callahan doesn't really make sense when you look at the Flyers' top nine forwards. They've got pretty balanced grit and skill up and down the lineup. It's top-line finesse and skill that's worth spending money on. I'd pass, and I say the Flyers do too.
It should be interesting to see if Callahan lowers his asking price this summer. Although, his agent, Steve Bartlett, has already said it would be tempting to wait and see what the market's like on July 1. His combination of grit and skill proved to be a nice fit in Tampa Bay, as he collected six goals and 11 points in 20 games after being traded by New York. I wouldn't rule out a possible return to the Lightning. But there will still be plenty of interest from other teams around the NHL. Callahan is usually good for 20 goals a season, but his leadership qualities and versatility are going to be what intrigues GMs the most. The Flyers could definitely use some help on the wing, but I'm not convinced Callahan is the answer. He's more of a second- or third-line player, and if he's looking for $6.5 million or more per year, I think it will be very easy for Ron Hextall to pass on him. The Flyers have a handful of wingers -- Matt Read, Michael Raffl, Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds to name a few -- who are more than capable of filling that role. I'd be surprised if Callahan wound up in orange and black.