This is also the exact face that Ryan Callahan made when he was handed over $12 million this afternoon.

Now they just need to avoid having to squeak into the playoffs, and generally stop being known more for winning free agency battles off the ice than winning anything of consequence on the ice. No big deal.

After avoiding arbitration with Brandon Dubinsky and Brian Boyle, Glen Sather found his money bag just before another arbitration hearing. The clock was ticking down to Ryan Callahan’s appointment with an arbitrator tomorrow, but New York secured the RFA just as his agent was getting ready to board a plane to Toronto.

Callahan will remain a Ranger for the next three years with a contract worth $12.825 million, and an annual cap hit of $4.275 million.

As we noted in this morning’s Dump and Chase, Callahan’s agent Steve Bartlett spoke to the Bergen Record yesterday. He sounded like a man who was trying to use the media to put pressure on the Rangers, and make them look like the bad guy if Callahan did indeed wind up at that arbitration date.

If Jerry McGuire taught us anything, it’s that agents always have us at hello know how to show their clients the money. Callahan would have been on track to become an unrestricted free agent if he went to arbitration. Knowing that the Rangers were unlikely to let that happen and allow a player who just set career-highs in goals (23), assists (25), and points (48) flirt with the open market, Bartlett set about the business of shrewd negotiating.

Since Dubinsky and Callahan are nearly the same age (Dubinsky is 25, and Callahan is 26), and their offensive numbers were similar this past season despite Callahan only appearing in 60 games, it was expected that Callahan’s deal would be close to the one Dubinsky received last week (four years, $16.8 million). And it is, at least in terms of the cap value, with Callahan taking up slightly more cap real estate than Dubinsky over the next three years.

But the overall contract value for Callahan is $4 million lower, which is a product of the term being shorter. That could be a reflection of the Rangers being cautious after the Rochester, New York native suffered a broken hand and a broken leg last season, both on unlucky plays while he was trying to block a shot. Bartlett told ESPN New York that Callahan would have preferred a longer term, and the two sides reached a compromise.

While a fear of frailness could have been a factor, Blueshirt Banter has another explanation:

Currently, Callahan’s three-year deal covers one restricted free agency season, and two unrestricted free agency seasons. We discussed earlier how the open market would significantly inflate Callahan’s worth, thus increasing the amount of a new contract. Callahan and his agent know this.

So while a $4.26 million deal is reasonable for two unrestricted free agency seasons, that number would have to be much higher if the Rangers wanted to buy out a third or fourth UFA year. Especially since in four years Callahan will be 30-years-old, something which could potentially decrease offers.

With only $702,166 now remaining in cap space for this season, Sather needed to be careful with the cost of Callahan, and the cost of that fourth or fifth season. That played a major role in the three-year compromise by the two camps.

The rangers now have their four core forwards–Callahan, Dubinsky, Brad Richards, and Marian Gaborik–locked up for the next three years.