Derek Stepan and the Rangers are still working on a deal to get the 23 year-old signed. He is currently a restricted free agent who is not eligible for arbitration. The Rangers are trying to get Stepan to accept a “bridge” deal which is usually for two years. The bridge deal is essentially the only thing the Rangers can offer Stepan. Since the cap floor dropped so dramatically this year it made it harder for teams to re-sign players. It also hurt that the Rangers had to lock up a bunch of other players too including Stepan’s good friend Ryan McDonagh. Since McDonagh is clearly one of the best defenseman in the league already the Rangers locked him up long term.
There are no indications of a deal getting done, but there is also no indication that Stepan will holdout. The negotiations between the two parties have been kept quiet, and many people don’t know what is going on. What people do know is that Stepan is a big piece of the Rangers’ future. He was their best and most consistent player in 2013. He plays in every situation and has emerged as the team’s best center.
There is no doubt in my mind Stepan will eventually get signed. The Rangers front office realizes that they need Stepan in order to make a real push for a Stanley Cup.