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Rangers facing key summer with RFAs Stepan, McDonagh and Hagelin

May 27, 2013, 12:58 PM EDT

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 16: Derek Stepan #21 of the New York Rangers celebrates a second period goal by teammate Marc Staal #18 in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Final against the New Jersey Devils during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 16, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) Getty Images

This offseason promises to be an intriguing one in the Big Apple.

While most of the talk around the Rangers at the moment involves the contractual future of Brad Richards, another key development looms — negotiations for a trio of key restricted free agents: Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh and Carl Hagelin.

All spent last season as huge contributors on incredibly cheap deals. Stepan and Hagelin each made $875,000 while McDonagh played on a $1.3 million cap hit, all stemming from their entry-level deals.

(Of note, Hagelin and McDonagh have arbitration rights. Stepan doesn’t.)

On the surface, the Rangers appear to be in good shape for negotiations. They currently sit $13.5 million under the adjusted $64.3 million cap ceiling for 2013-14, with 18 players under contract.

Stepan has already pledged his allegiance to the Blueshirts, saying he wants to be in New York for the long haul and end his career there.

The question, though, is how he, Hagelin and McDonagh will split up the pie.

Prior to this season, the case could’ve been made that McDonagh was the club’s clear-cut No. 1 priority. But after Stepan’s stellar 2013 campaign — he led the team in regular-season scoring (44 points) and playoff goals (four) — it’s suddenly not as clear cut.

Throw in the Brad Richards situation, and Stepan — a center — suddenly becomes a vital part of New York’s future.

And this isn’t forgetting about Hagelin, who scored 24 points in 48 games during the regular season and finished third on the team in scoring during the postseason.

One thing’s for certain, though — Stepan has clearly made an impact on this team.

Just ask Derick Brassard.

“Even though he’s younger than me,” Brassard told NHL.com’s Dan Rosen, “he’s one of the guys I look up to.”

  1. heynyc61 - May 27, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    Stepon and Mcdnough are priorities.

  2. 19to77 - May 27, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    Buy out Richards, go with Stepan and Brassard as the top two centres. Brassard certainly earned his keep since coming over in the Gaborik deal. Richards is only going to continue to decline in performance. He’s already fallen short of justifying his contract, and he’s signed ’till he’s forty. Think he’ll even crack an NHL roster in 2019? I don’t.

  3. jimw81 - May 27, 2013 at 3:54 PM

    how are they going to pay Lundqvist to long term deal? that puts rangers in a hole of who stays and who goes. thats why you saw teams like flyers resign players before lockout. Those deals that look very good right now.

    • stakex - May 27, 2013 at 8:22 PM

      Lundqvis already has a cap hit of $6,875,000…. its not going to get any higher than that. If anything, it might go down if its a long term deal.

      That is of course if Lundqvis wants to stay in NY. Today in his exit interview he refered to NY in past tense (though he will be a Ranger next season still no matter what), and wouldn’t commit to staying. Kinda scary to be honest.

  4. valoisjoeybfeld69 - May 27, 2013 at 4:07 PM

    Yep! Buy out Richards and make Stepan and McD top priorities.

  5. DED - May 27, 2013 at 5:18 PM

    Sather better not screw this up.

    • jimw81 - May 27, 2013 at 10:29 PM

      he will.

  6. stakex - May 27, 2013 at 8:53 PM

    $13.5 million should be plenty to resign those three. Also, if they do re-sign them that would give them 13 forwards signed for next year… so they could get rid of someone from the bottom of the roster, freeing up a little more space.

    As for what each player should get, heres my take:

    Hagelin – This ones easy…. not much. Hes a very over rated player. Sure he has a ton of speed, but he can’t put the puck in the net. He has so many chances because of his speed but has no finish. He was on pace for 16 goals in a full season, and thats easy to replace. I’d offer him $2.5 take it or leave it.

    Stepan – Hes a very solid center who can find the back of the net. His only problem is a tendency to fall off the radar from time to time. If you are going to be paid like a star, you have to show up every single game… and thats an issue for Stepan. I’d say somewhere in the $4.5-5 million range.

    McDonagh – I still think he is the main priority. Stepan is harder to replace then Hagelin, but hes still replaceable. Really good defensemen like McD are much harder to come by. The only reason I don’t think McD will get the really big bucks in because hes not a big goal scorer. He chips in some offense, but probably not as much as a guy who plays 25-28 minutes a game could. I’d say $5 million is a pretty good number for him.

    —————————————

    Those numbers don’t take into account all three of them seem eager to stay in NY and might take less. Not to mention Sather has a tendency to play hardball when re-signing players (despite how he waste money on RFA), so its likely final deals could be even smaller.

    • DED - May 28, 2013 at 4:01 PM

      You mean how Sather wastes money on UFA’s, right? It’s the RFA’s that he plays hardball with.

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