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.
In the NY Post, Larry Brooks writes that Derek Stepan can make a good case to get a salary close to $4 million in his new contract but since Stepan isn’t arbitration eligible it’s unlikely that he will get close to that number.
Brooks notes that Stepan ranks behind Steven Stamkos and John Tavares in most points by an under-23 center over the past two years with 95.
Stepan finished 11th in scoring for centers this season with 44 points in 48 games. Stepan had 10 points in the first 19 games and then had 34 in the final 29 games of the regular season. He was tied for third in the NHL in game winning goals this season with six.
Adam Rotter: I wonder if the Rangers will give Stepan the same kind of contract that the Avalanche gave Matt Duchene, two-years and $7 million and then talk about a big extension next summer when the Rangers will have a lot more cap space and the cap will rise. It’s more of a numbers issue than an issue of wanting another year of Stepan playing at a high level. He deserves a long-term extension, and will get one at some point, but right now the Ranger may have to look shorter term and a lower cap hit to make other pieces fit.
Pat Leonard writes in the Daily News that the Rangers have decided not to send a qualifying offer to Michael Sauer.
Sauer will now be a UFA.
Leonard notes that the Rangers have sent qualifying offers to Justin Falk, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, Ryan McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello.
- Zuccarello’s qualifying offer is $735,000.
- McDonagh’s qualifying offer is $826,875
- Stepan’s qualifying offer is 826,875
- Hagelin’s qualifying offer is $660,000
- Falk’s qualifying offer is $866,250
The Rangers retain the rights to all of the players that they have qualified.
The deadline to qualify players is tomorrow.
In the NY Post, Larry Brooks predicts what the Rangers RFAs will sign for this summer.
- Ryan McDonagh: 4/5 years with a cap hit of $4.5/$5 million per
- Derek Stepan: 4/5 years with a cap hit of $4 million per
- Carl Hagelin: 2/3 years with a cap hit between $1.75 million and $2.5 million
- Mats Zuccarello: 2 years at $1.5 million
Brooks notes that if the Rangers don’t amnesty Brad Richards, and these are around the salaries that they sign their RFAs for, the team will end up bringing back pretty much the same group of forwards.
Scott Cullen of TSN predicts:
- Ryan McDonagh: $4.5 million per season
- Derek Stepan: $4 million per season
- Carl Hagelin: $1 million per season
- Mats Zuccarello: $750K per season
The Hockey News did the same thing recently.
For the first time in his career, Derek Stepan will be up for a new contract.
Stepan just finished his entry level contract which had a cap hit of $875,000.
He said yesterday, at Rangers break up day, that his goal heading into the season was to win the Stanley Cup and that his goal now turns to making sure he stays with the Rangers.
Stepan said, “I wanna be here for sure, I am a little biased, I think this is the greatest organization. I have been here since day 1 and they have treated me so nicely. I want to stay here and I want my career to end here.”
In the NY Post, Larry Brooks writes that while the Rangers have a history of signing players to bridge deals after their first contract, Stepan and Ryan McDonagh could buck that trend and sign a longer term deal like Marc Staal did.
Adam Rotter: Players get the bridge contracts when the organization wants to further evaluate them and make sure they are the player the they want them to be/think they should be. Michael Del Zotto, with his inconsistency, fell into that category. Derek Stepan is the Rangers number one center and Ryan McDonagh, like Marc Staal, is playing on the Rangers top defense pair at the time his contract comes up. They deserve longer term deals that show how important to the core of this team they are.