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Lightning coach Jon Cooper hopes Ryan Callahan remains in Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay Lightning hope to keep Ryan Callahan with organization for years to come
Tampa Bay Lightning hope to keep Ryan Callahan with organization for years to comePhoto by Mike Carlson

Former New York Rangers' captain Ryan Callahan only spent the final 20 regular season games, and a short four-game stint into the postseason with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but if things go Jon Cooper's way, the 29-year-old will be spending a lot more time in Florida.

"I really hope Ryan considers us a place he wants to spend the rest of his career," Tampa's head coach said on Thursday according to Tampa Bay Times. " Because as long as I am coaching this team, I want Ryan Callahan on the bench."

Callahan was acquired by the Lightning on March 5 from the Rangers, where he had played since being drafted in 2006. Tampa Bay and New York swapped captains after Rangers' GM Glen Sather couldn't come to an agreement with Callahan on a contract extension and Martin St. Louis forced his general manager, Steve Yzerman, to trade him.

The gritty right wing who demanded too much on a contract for New York to keep him, is open to staying put in Tampa where things seem to be improving every season, saved for their first-round collapse where they were swept out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Montreal Canadiens.

Lucky for him, Yzerman has also expressed interest in making it happen, but it's unclear how much the Lightning brass would be willing to invest on the soon-to-be free agent who will be able to test the market come July 1 if Tampa Bay doesn't make a move first.

While his work ethic is unmatched around the league, his fragility and production lessen the value a team might have for a player that will turn 30 before the end of next season. Or at least lessen the value that the player seems to have of himself, which at last count was six years, $39 million.

Callahan's agent Stephen Bartlett is anticipating that the conversation will strike up,but Lightning fans shouldn't pre-order their jersey's just yet. If they learned anything from the Callahan camp in early March, it's that actions speak louder than words.

"He has great respect for the organization," Bartlett said of his client. " We look forward to hearing what they have to say."

In 65 regular season games this season, Callahan registered 17 goals and 19 assists for 36 points, 11 of which came in his 20 contests with Tampa.