11:07AM: Craig Custance of ESPN Insider just sent out at tweet saying “One GM said he prefers bridge contracts for RFAs because it keeps player motivated. Said even best intentioned players can get complacent.”
10:49AM: At Puck Daddy, Ryan Lambert writes that the Rangers deserve the same kind of scrutiny and criticism that the Maple Leafs are facing over the Nazem Kadri situation.
Kadri, like Stepan, is an RFA and his contract situation has been the biggest story surrounding the Maple Leafs as they head into training camp.
Lambert writes that Stepan has a proven enough track record to get a contract that matches his production but that the Rangers are unable, due to cap space, offer him that much.
He says that Glen Sather messed up this off-season by bringing in players like Benoit Pouliot over signing Stepan and taking care of a “future centerpiece” of the organization.
For more on Stepan’s contract, CLICK HERE.
Adam Rotter: We are two days from players reporting for training camp and Stepan remains unsigned. That will likely change shortly and Stepan will likely be with the team when they report for physicals on Wednesday. When it comes to priorities, Ryan McDonagh was number one and Stepan was number two. The difference is that Stepan has no leverage and no rights and the Rangers could take their time getting the best deal for themselves.
Stepan has proven enough to warrant a deal of more than two years and of more than $3.5 million but the Rangers don’t have the space to give him that and they know that they can get him for under market value for at least two seasons. Knowing that they hold the rights to Stepan and that offer sheets are few and far between, the Rangers knew they can fill out some parts of the roster, sign a few other RFAs and still get Stepan signed later on.
According to at tweet from Bob McKenzie, Derek Stepan is seeking a contract similar to the one that Ryan McDonagh signed, six-years and $4.7 million per year, while the Rangers are holding firm on offering him a bridge contract.
McKenzie says that the situation is like that of PK Subban last year where Subban wanted a long-term deal and ended up signing a two-year deal worth $2.875 million per season.
Subban won the Norris Trophy last season and Montreal has started extension talks with Subban.
Glen Sather confirmed that the Rangers are looking to sign Stepan to a bridge contract and look to extend him before the bridge contract runs out.
Stepan has said that he expects to be in training camp.
THIS SECTION is all about Stepan’s contract situation.
At NHL.com, Corey Masisak looks at some comparable players and situations for Derek Stepan as he looks for his new contract.
He notes that Stepan’s numbers through three seasons are almost identical to Mike Richards’ first three seasons and that Stepan’s career average of .66 points per game before his 23rd birthday puts him behind Logan Couture, .71, and Jaime Benn, .72, among player that have completed “exactly” three seasons before turning 23.
Masiask notes that Richards and Benn signed long-term deals for second contracts while Couture was given a bridge deal and just signed a five-year extension worth $30 million.
Matt Duchene also signed a two-year bridge deal and just signed the same five-year extension worth $30 million.
Claude Giroux signed a three-year bridge contract before signing an eight-year extension this summer.
Glen Sather has said that Stepan will sign a bridge deal.
THIS SECTION is all about Stepan’s contract situation.
Adam Rotter: Stepan’s situation is more like Couture than Richards or Benn. Richards and Benn were giving longer-term deals to establish themselves as the go-to guys for their team. Benn, prior to the Tyler Seguin trade, was the core piece that Dallas was building around and Richards was being looked at as the next Bobby Clarke for the Flyers. The Sharks have indicated that Couture is their future go-to guy but they still have Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau playing big roles. Stepan, with another big year, will ascend to that role when he signs his extension ,next y
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.
4:58PM: Stepan told Ranger Rants that he is focusing on what he does and letting his agents handle the negotiations.
Stepan said that this is part of the business and part of being a pro hockey player.
He added that he isn’t sure what he will do after the USA camp ends and that he will probably return home to Minnesota for a little while before training camp.
4:43PM: “There is a lot of excited energy. We are a team that is pysched to have a little change of scenery. We have a good balance between young guys and older guys. There are a lot of guys who can’t wait for September.”
3:41PM: Larry Brooks writes in the NY Post that the stalemate with Stepan’s new contract has continued but that talks are expected to intensify as training camp starts in early September.
1:43PM: At the USA Hockey Camp in Washington, Derek Stepan told Steve Zipay he doesn’t anticipate NOT being at Rangers training camp when it opens in September.
Stepan is an RFA.
He told Zipay that these type of contract situations take time and both sides are working toward finding a number that works for both sides.
Ryan McDonagh told Zipay that Stepan will be at camp.
Fore more on Stepan’s contract situation, CLICK HERE.
9:52AM: On Edmonton radio yesterday, Glen Sather spoke with Jason Gregor and Ryan Rishaug about the current contract situation of Derek Stepan.
Stepan is unsigned and Sather was asked if he felt Stepan would have a contract when training camp starts.
Sather said that the Rangers are looking to give Stepan a two-year “bridge” or “gap” contract like the organization has done with players in the past.
He added that the plan will be for Stepan and the Rangers to work on an extension after he plays the first year of his contract.
Sather said, “I am not going to give a long-term contract at this stage and he is a good player, a smart player, a good team guy. There is certainly nothing wrong with him but you need to wait a little while before you get the big bucks.”
For more on Stepan’s contract, CLICK HERE.
8:33AM: At Yankee Stadium yesterday, Rangers assistant GM Jeff Gorton was asked about the contract situation with Derek Stepan and said that the two sides have had regular talks, but not for a few weeks, and that he anticipates getting back in touch over the next few days.
Gorton spoke about the spot Derek Stepan is in, coming off his entry-level deal, and how the team expects certain things to go on longer than other. While the deal might not be done tomorrow, Gorton fully expects that something will be done by the time training camp starts.
He described Stepan as a big part of the team, one they want to sign as soon as possible, and as a core player who the organization thinks highly of.
Ryan Callahan was asked about the Stepan situation and said that Stepan is going through the same process that he did, that Brandon Dubinsky and that other Rangers have.
At Backhand Shelf, Daniel Wagner lists Derek Stepan as the second best unsigned RFA behind Alex Pietrangelo.
For more on the Stepan contract, CLICK HERE.
Andrew Gross spoke with Rangers assistant GM Jeff Gorton at the press conference to announce the outdoor games at Yankee Stadium and Gorton told Gross that there is no update to provide on the contract situation of Derek Stepan or an extension for Henrik Lundqvist.
Gorton told Steve Zipay that talks are expected to resume with Lundqvist when he returns from Sweden.
He told told Zipay that he is confident that a deal will get done for Derek Stepan but nothing is imminent.
For more on the Lundqvist situation, CLICK HERE.
For more on Callahan situation, CLICK HERE.
At PHT, Jason writes that there are a bunch of high quality restricted free agents who are still unsigned.
Those players include Alex Pietrangelo of St. Louis, Nazem Kadri in Toronto, Cody Hodgson in Buffalo and Derek Stepan with the Rangers.
He notes that this isn’t unusual and that there are instances like Drew Doughty two-years ago and PK Subban this past year where players take their time in signing.
In regards to Stepan, he writes that the changes of the Rangers letting Stepan go to a team via an offer sheet are pretty much “nil.”
Adam Rotter: Things with Derek Stepan have been quiet all summer and it’s mostly because the Rangers have been handcuffed with their lack of salary space and their desire to keep all four RFAs. Ryan McDonagh was a top priority and there is some feeling that Carl Hagelin was going to get an offer sheet, so they were taken care of quickly, while the situation with Mats Zuccarello, which was believed to be close at one time, has delayed Stepan from getting done.
The Rangers want Stepan signed to a long-term deal, but they need to know how much cap space they have left to be able to give him a deal that will work for both sides. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Stepan signed in the days immediately following the Mats Zuccarello decision.
According to Larry Brooks in the NY Post, there is no progress between the Rangers and Derek Stepan in regards to the RFA center’s new contract.
Brooks says that Stepan doesn’t have arbitration rights, and unless something forces the issue, the contract talks could drag into September and maybe into training camp.
Brooks writes in the Post that the Rangers and Mats Zuccarello are trying to hammer out a deal to avoid arbitration.
He notes that under the new CBA a team can not walk away from an arbitration award that is less than $3.5 million.
Zuccarello has denied that he is looking for something close to $2 million, which Brooks notes again. Brooks says that the Rangers want Zuccarello at “considerably less” than what he is reportedly looking for.
Adam Rotter: I expect the Rangers and Zuccarello to come to terms before arbitration and for them to sign Stepan way before training camp starts. The Rangers usually take their time when signing RFAs but Ryan McDonagh was a priority and things with Carl Hagelin may have come together quicker. Stepan is a core piece but the Rangers didn’t sign Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky (in 2011) until late July and Marc Staal didn’t sign his new deal until September, days before training camp, in 2010. The Rangers are trying to find ways to maximize their cap space and get these two players under contract. It will happen, but maybe not as soon as some of us think it should.