It actually happened.
Restricted free agent center of the New York Rangers, Derek Stepan, actually decided to wise up and agree to a two-year contract worth $6.15 million, $3.075 million per season.
While some questioned GM Glen Sather‘s tactics of bashing Stepan on live television during a Rangers preseason game, it obviously worked, as just a few days later Stepan is officially a Ranger for at least two more years.
This signing before the regular season is extremely key for both Stepan and the Rangers and highly impacts both parties.
Stepan is 23 years old, still developing and becoming a better player year after year. If you are Stepan, the last thing you would want to do is stunt your growth and sit out an entire season or even part of a season. Because Stepan took this two-year contract, he will now be in line for an even bigger payday down the road if he continues improving over the next two seasons.
For the Rangers, without Stepan, the Blueshirts lack a No. 1 center. For a team that is supposedly contending for a Stanley Cup this season, it is very rare for a team to win it all without a true number one center.
Last season, Stepan played in all 48 games, because of the lockout shortened season, and led the team in points with 44 and assists with 26. No matter who plays on Stepan’s line automatically becomes a better player. His great vision and passing ability on the ice for a full 82-game season, like this year, should make players like Rick Nash have career years because that is just the type of player Stepan is. I would even say Stepan is the most important forward on the Rangers’ team, even better than Nash, because while Nash should lead the team in goals this season, someone has to give him the puck and nine times out of 10 that will be Stepan.
With the Rangers first nine games on the road this season, Stepan’s impact on the Rangers can make what would be a poor Rangers start to a salvageable one in the Rangers quest to capture a Stanley Cup in the 2013-14 season.