Rumors are rumors in the NHL and often they aren't true. But rumors are swirling about Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi are possibly available. If I'm Dave Nonis, I start making some phone calls to Glenn Sather, and here's why:
When the NY Rangers traded away Tony Amonte, and Mike Gartner to acquire guys like Esa Tikannen, Stephane Matteau, Doug Lidster and Glenn Anderson it came with a lot of belly-aching from NYR fans during the 94-95 season.
Amonte, was an up and coming young talent. Blessed with immense skill, and fast, though smallish. He had two 30+ goal seasons under his belt as a Ranger. He'd also go on to have three more 30+ goal seasons, including two 40+ goal seasons.
Gartner an aging, but consistently proven 30+ goal scorer was moved for role playing Glenn Anderson
In November of '93, the Rangers traded another guy branded as a young star, Darren Turcotte and another guy who was a pretty steady defenseman in James Patrick for immediate help up front when they acquired maybe on of the NHL's best grinders in Steve Larmer.
But history shows these moves as being huge payoffs in the end. The Rangers dumped the young/speedy skill guys, for the guys who were role players and got them to the next level. These were the type of guys who had history, and the type of guys you win games with. Because of it, the Rangers ended up winning the Cup in the 93-94 season.
However, here's no doubt about it:
Dan Girardi is a world-class defenseman. Though he's older (29) and is a Welland, ONT native and would probably love a chance at transitioning to Blue and White. Not the best the puck mover, or big-time scorer out there, but when it comes to two-way defenseman, but he's still among the league's best. He's a leader, a fearless shot blocker. Best of all he shoots right. The Leafs roster is full of guys who shoot left, which, no doubt does cause some lineup problems.
As for Callahan, he's also 28. He is the type of guy you want as primarily as 2nd liner, 3rd liner or possible 1st line player when he has to step in for injured players. The guy is a fearless forechecker, a grinder, he will fight if he needs to, and could almost instantaneously make the PK better. He's also a 3 time 20+ goal scorer.
Both guys are also Olympians as well. Getting one or either will cost a heavy price, make no mistake.
However, there are some clear discrepancies in this Leafs lineup. They struggle to show consistency. They have great 'puck' talent but struggle with putting it together. There is no doubt a high amount of skill in the top 6, but there may be some questions with team character depending on who you want to believe and what you think you are seeing. There's also some 3rd line depth and some Marlie depth as well.
That's why you take a long hard look at taking a gamble with these guys.
I have some doubts as if these problems can be sorted out with a Coaching change alone. I also have some doubts if maturity and experience will fix these turnover and possession factors.
Make no mistake though, both guys won't come cheap. There will also be cap implications to consider as well. But still...
The Leafs would be smart to take a run at getting one or both of these guys. Girardi is no doubt a top 2 defenseman, but could be placed in the 3-4 pairing if needed.
Callahan is the type of guy you'd love to have in your lineup.
There is a lot of risk in trading your young players. The Leafs certainly have a long failed history of trading away young talent too soon. Like most fans, I have a lot of bias towards a lot of these Leafs players.
At the same time, these[Girardi and Callahan] are two character players you highly need to consider adding to your lineup if you have ambitions in getting to the next level.
The NHL is a league where risk assessment and player management must be constantly taken into consideration. But good GM's don't just stand pat. They do take risks, they should always look to make player improvements and can't just go with future upside alone. That's why I wouldn't fault Nonis if he made a run and took a long hard look at acquiring these two guys.