According to New York Rangers‘ writer Larry Brooks in the New York Post, the Rangers have made zero progress on center Derek Stepan‘s new contract.
Stepan is a restricted free agent for this upcoming season, and with the little window of cap room the Rangers have, which is just over $3 million, along with GM Glen Sather also really wanting to re-sign Mats Zuccarello, who is another restricted free agent, Stepan and the Rangers front office might not reach a deal until September at the earliest.
Why is Sather spending so much time trying to re-sign Zuccarello over Stepan? According to Brooks the Rangers want to get Zucc signed as soon as possible so he avoids arbitration, and since Stepan does not have arbitration rights in his current contract he is forced to wait things out.
I, as a Rangers fan, do not agree with this move. I think Stepan should still be the Rangers’ first priority since he means a heck of a lot more to the team than Zuccarello. I don’t care if Zucc files for arbitration. Let him walk out the door if he wants a lot of money. He doesn’t deserve it. Stepan, on the other hand, deserves an above average salary. He is now the Rangers’ best center and at 23 years-old is only going to keep improving and getting better. Stepan’s value to the team should make him a bigger priority than Zucc, and the last thing you want to do is upset a key player to your roster.
I could be wrong about this since I am not the best when it comes to contracts, but to me this just seems wrong.
What is your opinion? Are Stepan’s days with the Rangers numbered?