Unless you've been living under a rock all summer, you've likely been on pins and needles constantly refreshing the NY Rangers Blog, twitter, or various message boards every 10 seconds at your home or office waiting on the news of Derek Stepan and the Rangers agreeing to terms on his next contract. It has become a bit concerning now that we are entering Day 3 of training camp with Stepan still unsigned, despite signs to the contrary just a few weeks ago.
I've come up with an idea that makes sense for both sides that will get Stepan signed, sealed and delivered well before the Rangers and the Devils face off in the first preseason game on Monday.
The primary reason Stepan and the Rangers are at a stalemate is because Stepan isn't arbitration eligible and is at the mercy of Glen Sather's below market value contract offers. I disagree with the notion that the Rangers current cap issues are hindering talks more so than they would be if the Rangers were hypothetically $10 million under the cap. If that was the case and if Sather was THAT concerned, more would've been done to clear space besides waiving Arron Asham and Darroll Powe and buying out Brad Richards would've been a reality especially with the abundance of centers already in the lineup; the signing of UFA Dominic Moore and the emergence of prospect Oscar Lindberg among them.
In the best interests of the Rangers and the current cap situation as well as Stepan's long term financial security for himself, I wonder if both parties would be interested in a one year "bridge contract" at less than market value rather than the two years that has been tossed about. Here's why....
First and foremost, Sather likely wants to see Stepan come close to his .91 PPG in 2013 that cemented him as the Rangers' top line center before handing out that long term, Dubinsky-esque (with perhaps more $$$) contract.
Second, with the salary cap projected to increase back to pre-lockout levels going into 2014-15, coupled in with the fact that nearly the entire Rangers roster as it stands right now need new contracts after this season, Stepan would be wise to want to throw his hat into that ring. Why would Stepan want to play in 2015 at below market value because Sather is trying to sign him for cheap now. Doesn't make sense.
Finally, Stepan would have arbitration rights next summer if he signs a one deal for this season. Stepan was on pace for 75 points last year if the schedule ran 82 games. If he's able to come close to that in this "bridge" year on a one year deal, Stepan would have all the leverage in the world when it comes to negotiating that big contract he's looking for next summer.
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This is exactly what I was thinking. He gets a year to prove himself and doesn't tie himself down to a low contract next year. If he has the year that is expected, he can sign long term like McDonagh did. No need to take two low years because of the cap problems. He needs to get into camp.
The kid has shown greatness at times but we have a whole core of players to sign and the main piece of this championship team is in between the pipes then Girardi the Captain and so on if he wants his walking papers let him walk no one is Indispensable .......put your finger in a cup of water if it leaves a whole then you are but I doubt that will occur .......someone else will always fill the void ...........prime example Gretzky leaves the oilers and what happened to the team 1 season later a five spot in Stanley cup so my point should b taken no one is irreplaceable
Zuccarello is great...watching this live look in, and he puts away a rebound on Hank in 2 on 2's and he goes nuts and jumps into the glass. Great guy to have on the team and in the locker room, glad they brought him back
I really think the Rangers are going to wait to sign him until they determine whether Lindberg can step into his spot. If so, Sather might just try to trade the rights to sign Stepan to another team. If it looks like Lindberg needs some time in the AHL, think Stepan should be offered a 2 year bridge with the rights to negotiate a new contract at the end of the 1st year. If Stepan unhappy with the new contract, he can refuse to honor the 2nd year of the bridge contract and become a free agent. This way he has 2 years insurance if he gets hurt amd the Rangers can determine if they want to offer a long term contract. Any legal flaws with this?
That's why Sather gets paid the big bucks - to separate the wheat from the chaff. Sure it's a gamble, but imho, Stephan is an elite 2nd line center. It's going to end up costing the Rangers more to sign him to a bridge deal if the intent is to keep him for the long haul. All a 2 year deal does is raise his value. Lock him below market for the long-term. If Sather can't evaluate what he's got after a players 3rd year in the league, then he should be fired. Again, he gets paid A LOT of money to evaluate talent. From Sather's point of view, if he's on the fence about someone, then yes, sign him to a bridge deal or let him hold out (as I would have done with Del Zotto). But he shouldn't have a blanket policy that he only does bridge deals after the entry-level contract is over. It's short-sighted.
This all makes a lot of sense to me, and I've wondered about this type of arrangement myself. The only caveat is god forbid he were to sustain a career threatening injury, at least a 2 yr. deal would offer somewhat more security for Step, and if they agree in a 2 yr. and he continues his development they could start negotiations on a lucrative long term contract as soon as next summer.
I get the thinking but you really want to add another key piece to the already bazillion key free agents this club has over the summer? That's way too many eggs in 1 year, and, BTW, there is no guarantee that the cap goes up, it's just projected to do so. Good business would be to delay Stepan's next contract to 2 year or more. I would be very happy to have him signed for 5 or 6 years at $4.5M per, but I'd also be happy to have him for 2 so he can develop into whatever player he will be. He's shown glimpses of elite status, but nothing is proven. If he puts together 60+ point seasons the next 2 years, he'll get $7M or $8M for 8 years. If I'm him, I would take my chance with that.
Really hate how the Rangers are handling Stepan. This team is weak at Center and they're jerking around their best one.
It's all about precedent for Sather. He doesn't every want to change that. he's wrong though. He should be signing these kids to 5-7 year deals at below market value, not 2 year deals. Lock up a guy like Stephan in his prime for 7 years at 4.5 per. He's worth more, but he'd take that now. He won't take it 2 years, and then you overpay or lose him.
Stepan also knows a prolonged holdout will likely end his chances of playing in the Olympics. Pietrangelo signed, Cowen signed albeit long term contracts and I think Stepan won't wait too much longer.
How long after you sign a contract can you sign an extension? For example could Step agree to a 1-year bridge deal like you suggested and then the next day sign an extension that would start next year?
I disagree. The Rangers nor Stepan want this. Injury would bring down his value drastically and he has no protection from that (that is Stepan's view). For the Rangers next year is not the year you want your 24 year old first line center getting big dollars when you also have to sign Kreider (2-3 depending on this season), Lundqvist (8+), Callahan(6+), Girardi(4+), Brassard (depending on his year it could be 4.5+), DZ (depending on his year 3.5-4.5), Stralman (depending on his year (2.5-3.5), and John Moore (depending on his year (1.75-3).
Then you still have guys like Pouliot, Boyle, Zuccs, Falk, Powe, D. Moore, Asham, and pyatt.
No way you want to throw Stepan into this too. Lets say he had his best full season yet (which everyone thinks and hopes will happens) and puts up 75 points (28 goals, 47 assists). Then you are looking at an additional 5.5-6.25 for Stepan on top of all this craziness next year
the Gretzky example is not a great one ; ) because the Oilers were stacked, and they had this guy Mark Messier who was kind of a big deal
in any case, Stepan isn't walking. it's also important to recognize, despite our bevy of centers in the system, we have yet to see someone really command that first line role. Stepan is in the best position to do so.
@lennynyr Stepan is not getting traded... they would get rid of Brassard first. He is our number 1 and will be a ranger very soon. Dont you worry
@Timothy McNeeley it's pretty typical. it's not like Sather and company are doing anything out of the ordinary. Stepan has no arbitration rights and it's still early in his career. this is just business. it's not like the Rangers are handling Stepan badly.
that said, we don't know what numbers each side is talking about. what does Stepan's agent think is fair market value? what has Sather offered? we don't know. we may never know. Sather has the leverage but that doesn't mean he has to low ball him.
here's hoping they'll reach an agreement sooner than later
@nyr322 you can sign an extension whenever, it's just an add-on to the contract changing when the term ends
@FREE LINDBERG Stepan has a flawless injury history in his time as an NHL pro. Bad business to operate under the assumption that he is going to get hurt at some point.
Your argument is based on AV and Sather electing to bring everyone back which I don't think will be the case. Guys like Boyle will likely give way to Lindberg on a very cheap ELC. Also I can see letting Stralman walk in favor of a cheaper McIlrath. AV is attempting to win with Tortorella's roster all on the last year of their contracts. He's going to want to bring in some of his guys which means a couple players that are fan favorites here could be on the chopping block.
Sather is simply looking to get Stepan in under the cap for this season without shedding players and as I said above, I believe Sather would've been more proactive in shedding cap room this offseason rather than adding depth pieces at the bottom of the lineup.
What? Give Step his walking papers? Trade his rights?? Are some of you dropping acid??? (and not sharing any with Worlds lol). Maybe you are forgetting that through all of Torts' line shuffling that pretty much every single winger on the Rangers played their best hockey when they were on Step's line, and plus he is probably their best defensive center. There are subtleties to this game that do not show up on the scoring sheet and you are not going to just piss away the centerman who makes your other players click. Slats is an ass but he's a smart ass. It ain't happening.. Something is getting done soon. Slats wants Step and Step wants to get on the ice. I freakin hate the business side of this game.
I'm not worried. Rangers got more guys with more potential than Stepan. Dubi was a one trick pony, Dubi held out and hasn't matched his best season yet, not even close. Guess who's going down the same path.
Lindberg absolutely can not step into Stepan's spot. Oscar is going to need some time for adjustment and growth. I'm a big fan of the new guy already, but there is no substitute for experience. Stepan is still a young man, but he's put in some valuable time already. The only spot we're looking for someone to step into is Stepan into the first line center spot.