Ryan Callahan, Rangers quickly approaching sign or trade deadline

One week from today is the final day before the NHL goes on hiatus for two weeks as its players head to Sochi for the Olympic Games. Next Friday at 3 p.m. ET is Olympic roster freeze. That runs until 11:59 p.m. ET on Feb. 23, the day of the gold medal game.

As you can imagine, general managers around the league are busy on their phones gauging interest in players and seeing what the prices are for others.

One of those teams with a vested interest in the March trade deadline is the New York Rangers. Their captain, Ryan Callahan, is a pending unrestricted free agent, who's reportedly looking for $42 million over six years. That's a raise over his current $4.825 million salary this season and a longer commitment than what GM Glen Sather has in mind.

According to the New York Post's Larry Brooks, Sather has told Callahan's camp that he would like a decision on the player's future by the trade freeze deadline next Friday. TSN reported Friday that the Rangers have granted at least one team permission to speak with Callahan's agent about a new contract.

Those rumors? Callahan's not listening.

Via Andrew Gross of the Bergen Record:

“I haven’t heard the rumors tonight,” Callahan said at his locker stall after an assist in the Rangers’ 4-1 win over the Islanders at Madison Square Garden.

He was then told the Rangers had granted other teams permission to speak with Bartlett.

“That’s news to me,” he said in a clipped tone. “Anything else?”

Sather has a balancing act to deal with as Callahan and defenseman Dan Girardi are pending UFAs, while restricted free agents Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard and John Moore are all due new contracts this summer. Spending to the cap ceiling is obviously no issue for the Rangers, but the construction of a contender is paramount for a team who's advanced past the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs only once since 1996-97.

Brooks states clearly that the Rangers will not go the seven-year route for the captain, even though Sather would love to keep him a Blueshirt. (Smart business from Glen Sather? When did that start?)

But if Callahan's camp won't budge from their offer, it's clear that trading their captain is the only option before the March deadline. A player like Callahan can bring in a decent return, even as a pending UFA. Those pieces acquired in return could help the Rangers long-term, rather than have $42 million over seven years muddle their salary cap picture.

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Sean Leahy

is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!