NHL notes: Rangers lock up Callahan

New York Rangers right wing Ryan Callahan. (REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

New York Rangers right wing Ryan Callahan. (REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:12 PM ET

Ryan Callahan was hoping to avoid salary arbitration.

The New York Rangers forward got his wish Wednesday, with a little extra pocket change to boot, when he signed a three-year contract worth a reported $12.875 million to stay in the Big Apple. The deal has an annual salary cap hit of $4.26 million but doesn't include a no-trade clause.

Callahan, a restricted free agent who had an arbitration hearing set for Thursday, was discussing a longer-term deal with the Rangers but settled on three years, happily avoiding the sometimes-messy arbitration process.

I'm thrilled to be back for three years," Callahan told The Bergen (N.J.) Record. "I love playing for the Rangers. I'm excited to be back and to have this behind me and concentrate on the season. I was hoping it would get done but you never really know how it's going to go in these negotiations.

"I definitely didn't want to go to arbitration and only go on a one-year deal. I'm really happy it didn't have to come to that."

Callahan had a breakout season in 2010-11, recording 23 goals and 25 assists despite missing 22 games with a broken ankle. With Chris Drury no longer in the mix with the Rangers, the 26-year-old from Rochester could become the team's next captain.

Teams swap dates

The Vancouver Canucks and Phoenox Coyotes have completed a trade.

But it only involves regular-season game dates.

The Coyotes were scheduled to play in Vancouver Feb. 13, 2012 and the Canucks in Phoenix Feb. 28 but, after the swap, the home dates are reversed. Phoenix will now host the Canucks Feb. 13 and Vancouver will be at home to the 'Yotes on Feb. 28.

Prospects jump ship

Anaheim Ducks prospect John Gibson has backed out of a commitment to join the University of Michigan Wolverines and will instead play junior hockey.

Gibson, a 6-foot-3, 206 pound goalie who was picked in the second round of the 2011 draft, will play for the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL. The 18-year-old from Pittsburgh, an 11th-round draft pick of the Rangers in '09, played in the U.S. National Team Development Program last season.

Also, the Phoenix Coyotes' first-rounder this year, defenceman Connor Murphy, will pass on playing at Miami (Ohio) University and instead join the Sarnia Sting of the OHL. The son of former NHLer Gord Murphy, the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder was taken by Sarnia in the 15th round of the '09 OHL draft. He was a teammate of Gibson with the U.S. under-18 team last season.

Rolston joins Amerks

Ron Rolston, who became synonymous with the U.S. National Team Development Program, was hired Wednesday to coach the Rochester Americans of the AHL.

It is the first professional coaching job for Rolston, 40, who moves to the Buffalo Sabres' AHL affiliateafter seven years with the USNTDP. He guided the program's under-18 team to the gold medal at the world U-18 championships last season and has been behind the bench for two world junior tournaments.

"I am both excited and honoured to join an organization with as storied a tradition as the Rochester Americans," Rolston said in a press release. "The opportunity to work within the Sabres organization, and to develop players at the game's highest level, is an opportunity that I am committed to and embrace."

Rolston replaces Chuck Weber, who left the organization when the Sabres bought the Americans last month.

World U17 moved

The NHL's return to Winnipeg has cost the city a world championship tournament.

Hockey Canada announced Wednesday that the 2012 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, which features five Canadian teams (Atlantic, Ontario, Pacific, Quebec, West) and five international squads, has been moved from Winnipeg to Windsor, Ont. Windsor's WFCU Centre will be the primary venue for the tournament, which gets under way Dec. 29.

Winnipeg's True Nortth Sports and Entertainment hosted the 2011 tournament and was awarded the 2012 event by Hockey Canada. But when True North bought the Atlanta Thrashers and moved them to Winnipeg, Hockey Canada and the new Jets owners opted to switch sites for the tournament.

"The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, as the first step of the Program of Excellence, is one of Hockey Canada's most important events," Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson said. "We have no doubt Windsor will do a first-class job in hosting the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in 2012."

Nine of the last 11 first overall NHL draft picks have played in the event, which began as the Quebec Esso Cup in 1986.

No Commodore 64

Mike Commodore's sense of tradition apparently out-weighed his sense of humour.

Commodore, signed as a free agent by the Detroit Red Wings this summer, has decided not to wear No. 64 as a tribute to the old video-game console. Instead, he'll go the more traditional route and wear No. 22.

The veteran defenceman explained his logic on Twitter Wednesday, saying the "opportunity to play in Detroit is a special thing, and I felt like I needed to wear a # that is special to me."

Quick hits

The Phoenix Coyotes signed former Maple Leafs saviour, uh, prospect Justin Pogge to a one-year, two-way contract. Pogge went 22-18-4 with a 3.12 goals-against average and .907 save percentage in 48 games with Charlotte of the AHL last season ... Kelowna, B.C., will host the 2012 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. The event, which will feature 40 of the top prospects for the 2012 NHL draft playing in the CHL, is set for Feb. 1 ... The Chicago Blackhawks have invited goalie Ray Emery to training camp, according to ESPN. Emery signed with the Anaheim Ducks after recovering from hip surgery last year, going 7-2-0 with a 2.28 GAA in 10 games, but became an unrestricted free agent this summer.


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