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Report: Stepan ‘unlikely’ to be with Rangers for season opener

Sep 19, 2013, 1:28 PM EDT

DerekStepan Getty Images

It appears Derek Stepan‘s contract dispute with the Rangers will spill into the regular season.

Stepan, New York’s leading scorer last year, is “unlikely” to be on the team’s roster when it opens in Phoenix on Oct. 3, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.

Here’s more, from the latest installment of the Dreger report:

Sources say that Stepan remains locked on a bridge deal that would pay him $3.5 million per year, while New York would happily sign off on a two-year agreement at $3 million per.

Doesn’t sound like much, but cap teams like the Rangers are crunching every dollar to comply.

While the Rangers see a great future in Stepan, they also like their depth up the middle with Brad Richards, Derick Brassard, Brian Boyle and Dominic Moore.

It’s not surprising to learn long-term contracts are off the table and only a bridge deal is in play.

New York stood firm on one during negotiations with Michael Del Zotto (which he ultimately signed) and the bridge contract has been popping up more and more lately, a byproduct of the reduced salary cap.

Toronto forward Nazem Kadri signed one — a two-year, $5.8 million deal — as did Phoenix’s Mikkel Boedker (two years, $5.1 million) and Washington’s Marcus Johansson (two years, $4 million).

The big difference with Stepan, though, is that he’s looking for $7 million guaranteed.

Of course, Stepan is in a different situation than his fellow RFAs.

At 23, he’s already played three full seasons (or two-and-a-half, depending on how you classify the shortened season) and 37 playoff games. He also projects to be New York’s No. 1 center this year, regardless of how much the club likes its depth down the middle.

  1. rpiotr01 - Sep 19, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    If only there were a number between 3 and 3.5…. but dammit, it’s just not meant to be. Oh well.

  2. c1md6 - Sep 19, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    Too bad we couldn’t give him delaasters contract, then trade delzaster for a bag of hockey pucks. Ok I’m being a little too insulting here, sorry bag of hockey pucks, you’re trade value is definitely higher than that.

  3. withseidelinn - Sep 19, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    This team is so screwed next year.

  4. withseidelinn - Sep 19, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    They can dedicate a grand total of 2.07 mil to each player. Good luck Sather.

  5. ejbigg - Sep 19, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    I get Sather’s point of view that this is the only time a team has any leverage in negotiations so I highly doubt he’s going to give in. But come on is $500K and missing your leading scorer really worth standing by that principle?

    • stakex - Sep 19, 2013 at 2:00 PM

      That depends on what their cap situation is. I would think Sather would gladly give him the money if they could get it in under the cap. I mean if they can trim the roster down to 20 players at the start of the season, they could easily fit him under the cap, but there is some talk the Rangers will need to carry at least two (perhaps three) extra forwards until Callahan and Hagelin are healthy. That makes their cap situation iffy, and that $500k huge.

  6. stepanup - Sep 19, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    3.5 million is a bargain for a player of Stepan’s caliber. So glad the Rangers signed Benoit Pouliot first for that very relevant $1M contact. The team couldn’t have functioned as a team without the third line winger.

  7. stakex - Sep 19, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    I know players want to make every penny they can, and no one wants to play for less then they feel they are worth. I don’t blame them for that either. However, given the Rangers tight cap situation, would it really kill Stepan to take $3 million instead of $3.5 million? That’s still far more money then 99.2% of the country makes in a year…. I think he could survive on that for a couple seasons till he gets the big payday that no doubt will come.

    • moarjam - Sep 19, 2013 at 3:16 PM

      He doesn’t care if that’s more money than 99.2% of the country makes nor should he. He wants to cash in now for as much as he can. I don’t blame him for having that mindset.

      What he doesn’t seem to get is this…yeah he’s worth way more than $3m/year on the open market. But he’s not on the open market. He’s a RFA with no arbitration rights. He basically has to take whatever Sather offers him. May not be right but that’s the way this system is structured. The only leverage he has is to not sign it and withhold his services which he is exercising. No one is going to offersheet him with the cap down so much from last year. No one really has the space.

  8. xdj511 - Sep 19, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    1. I don’t see how this conversation could have taken longer than 5 minutes.
    Sather: Look, this is exactly how much money we have available under the cap.
    Stepan: Okay, it’s less than I wanted, but I know it’s the best that I can do. Promise me if I keep playing well I’ll get more money when the cap goes up next season.
    Sather: Okay, deal.

    2. How can nobody be accusing the owners of collusion in situations like this? Nobody, not even the crappy teams with plenty of cap space, can throw an offer sheet at this guy? A 23 year old first line center? Really? Nobody wants to take a shot at this? I find this the most unbelievable thing about the whole situation. At the very least they can force the Rangers to match the offer and have to move other players to make room for Stepan. And this is coming from a Rangers fan. I just don’t get it.

    • peterjohnjoseph - Sep 20, 2013 at 1:00 PM

      I’ve been saying the same thing since June. Unreal.

  9. bleedrangerblue - Sep 19, 2013 at 6:06 PM

    @xdj511. It’s crazy. Don’t get it one bit. I’d rather have him than Zuc and I like Zuc. Sather get it done!

  10. 950003cups - Sep 20, 2013 at 1:37 AM

    It’s either Stepan or Lundqvist. Rangers won’t be able to afford both at this time. I would sign the kid and let Henrik go to Phoenix.

  11. captngeetch - Sep 20, 2013 at 9:01 AM

    Says the Devil fan…the cap will go up next year, the Rangers will use their last compliance buyout on Richards in the summer, Pyatt, Boyle,Powe and Asham will be gone and they will sign ALL their FA’s bank on it

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