Reports are starting to circulate that the New York Rangers and Derek Stepan have reached an agreement on a new contract. The contract is apparently worth $6.5 million over two years. Stepan has seemingly come to his senses.
Stepan was a restricted free agent this year, but did not have arbitration rights, giving him very little leverage. The Rangers had very little cap space to spend, so they were trying to get Stepan to accept a bridge deal that they usually give most of their players after their first contract expires. In an interview on the MSG network, general manager Glen Sather said that he hoped Stepan would “wake up and smell the roses,” and said that he wished he “wouldn’t listen to his agent.” Stepan should have taken this deal all along, instead of dragging out this process. He has hurt his team by holding out as long as he has.
Stepan emerged as the team’s No. 1 center last year. He was their most consistent player in a year that was marred with inconsistency. He evolved into an all-around player who could play in any situation. He also developed very good chemistry with star forward Rick Nash. Stepan will continue to grow and will benefit greatly from the new system put in place by new coach Alain Vigneault. Stepan might get off to a slow start given the lack of time he has with the team, but he will quickly adapt and adjust to the new system in place.
Stepan being locked up is great news for Rangers fans. He is a key part of the team for this season and for many seasons to come. Hopefully this contract dispute doesn’t rub people in the front office the wrong way.