Rangers trade Ryan Callahan for Martin St. Louis

Ryan Callahan salutes the crowd after he was named star of the game against the Avalanche at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014.
Ryan Callahan salutes the crowd after he was named star of the game against the Avalanche at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014. Photo Credit: Elyse Pasquale

Unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension, the Rangers traded captain Ryan Callahan and two future draft picks to Tampa for Martin St. Louis on Wednesday.

The Rangers confirmed the trade via their verified Twitter account around 12:15 p.m.

The Lightning will receive a second-round pick in the 2014 draft and a first-round pick in 2015. The Rangers reportedly will receive Tampa’s second pick in 2015 if Callahan re-signs with the Lightning.

It was unclear whether St. Louis, 38, who has 29 goals and 32 assists for the Lightning this season, will play Wednesday night in New York against Toronto. The Rangers said St. Louis will wear No. 26.

It is a huge price to pay for Callahan, who will turn 29 on March 21. He has said since before the Winter Olympics, during which he played for Team USA, that his heart was with the team and wanted to stay in New York.

But Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather balked at Callahan’s initial asking price of $49 million over seven years and gave his agent permission to discuss a contract with other teams. Sather, who preferred a shorter term, pressed to get a deal done prior to the Olympics, and there were no negotiations while the right wing was in Sochi.

Callahan, who is in his eighth NHL season and averaging more than 18 minutes of ice time with 11 goals and 14 assists in 45 games, softened his stance since the Olympics to six years and more than $36 million. But it apparently wasn’t enough.

St. Louis, who lives in Connecticut and trains there in the summer, had asked to be traded to the Rangers last month. He has one more year left on his contract at $5 million.

The news was rather surprising, given Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault’s remarks during the week.

“He’s the captain of this team, and I’d take him as my captain any day of the week,” Vigneault said after practice Tuesday. “With Cally, what you have is a guy that leads by example, a player that is not afraid to talk to a teammate when he feels, whether it be his behavior, doesn’t meet Rangers’ expectations. I got to know him real quickly and I’m real happy with his presence and what he brings to this team.”

As for the negotiations, Vigneault stuck to his positive tone. “Everybody’s talking and as long as people are talking, I’m being optimistic.”

Callahan, who has clearly tired of the daily questions on his status, did not speak to the media after practicing Wednesday morning at Madison Square Garden. After practice, and before learning about the trade, teammate Brian Boyle described Callahan as “a real leader by example. I hope he stays here.”

Before this season, Callahan, a Rochester, N.Y. native, played in 405 games, with 121 goals and 108 assists. In 59 playoff games, he recorded 14 goals and 10 assists. In those seasons, he has been a fixture on the penalty kill and power play and regularly was among the NHL leaders among forwards in hits and blocked shots.