James: What is Sather talking about when he says that Stepan has to wait for a big money deal? He just gave McDonagh six years and Mac has played 169 games to Stepan’s 212. This doesn’t make sense.
Adam: It really comes down to the positions that they play. Stepan is a valuable forward for the Rangers but the league trend seems to be rewarding defensemen with long-term deals coming off of entry-level contracts. Roman Josi, Travis Hamonic and Zach Bogosian all got similar deals to McDonagh this summer as did Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Erik Karlsson who got them last summer.
Quality defensemen are so hard to find and when teams do find them they tend to lock them up long-term. The Rangers did it with Marc Staal a few years ago and did again this summer. It doesn’t mean that Stepan is any less valuable, but the trend in the league seems to be for most forwards to get longer-term deals for their third contract. Ryan Kesler, Max Pacioretty, James Neal all had that happen and are much more on the level with Stepan than players like Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and John Tavares.
In a salary cap world you need to use all the leverage you have in every situation and the Rangers are doing just that with Stepan. He will get a bridge contract and if he continues to perform and get better, which everyone expects, the Rangers will reward him with his own five or six year deal.