The New York Rangers resigned last year’s leading scorer, center Derek Stepan, to a 2-year contract worth up to $6.25 million yesterday ($2.3 million this season and $3.85 million in 2014-15.). Stepan, who was drafted by the Rangers in the second round of the 2008 NHL draft, was in day 16 of his training camp hold out. Per the NY Daily News:
“There’s no question in my mind that I didn’t want it to go that long,” Stepan said in a conference call Thursday afternoon from his home in Minnesota. “I don’t think either side expected it to go that long.”
As a restricted free agent, the Rangers still held his rights despite his lack of contract, and Stepan was unable to hit the open market. Stepan had been seeking a contract of 7 million dollars over two years, while the Rangers had been offering 6.4, according to CBSsports:
Stepan is seeking a deal for $7 million over two seasons. That’s gap deal and that’s a great price for a guy who was nearly a point-per-game player as a top-line center last season. The problem is the Rangers can’t afford that with their cap situation and are reportedly countering with $6.4 million over two years. It’s not a large difference but when Stepan is already below value on his negotiating tactics, it seems bigger.
This has to be viewed as a boon for the Rangers, which had Stepan playing on both its power play and penalty killing units, though they seemed dismissive of Stepan’s holdout tactics prior to the day. And by “they” I mean “curmudgeonly GM Glen Sather”:
“I don’t think Derek is going to let this thing linger that long,” Sather said in an interview on MSG Network during the Rangers’ preseason game against the Calgary Flames on Monday night. “I don’t think he is a big enough fool to think that he will sit out the year and it will do any good. He is in a gap contract and every one of our players has signed a gap contract.
Woof. The Rangers definitely won this round, and further players thinking of standing toe-to-toe with ol’ Slats should consider a different route.