How the Ryan O’Reilly contract affects Derek Stepan

Could Derek Stepan be eyeing up big money in the summer?
Could Derek Stepan be eyeing up big money in the summer?

Ryan O’Reilly was touted in various circles as a potential trade target for the Rangers during the team’s recent poor stretch of form. That was until he signed back with the Avalanche via an offer sheet from the Calgary Flames. In the process, O’Reilly may have just caused a headache for the Rangers.

O’Reilly signed a two year, $10 million offer sheet from the Flames which the Avalanche were quick to match. In a nutshell, the talented fourth year Avs center is now making five million per year (cap hit) the next two years. Here’s where the problems start. O’Reilly; statistics, position, style and age is very similar and thus a comparable to the Rangers’ Derek Stepan. Stepan is about to become a restricted free agent this summer.

Can the Rangers afford to offer Stepan O’Reilly money next summer? Absolutely not. Nor will they intend on offering that kind of cash especially considering how general manager Glen Sather goes about dealing with the ‘in between’ contracts of his own young restricted free agents. However, will Stepan have seen the O’Reilly contract (you can bet his agents will have) and will he now think he’s worth more than what the Rangers likely intend on offering? Food for thought.

Last year Stepan had a breakout of sorts, with 51 points and 17 goals. In addition, he had a +14 rating, 16 powerplay points as well as four game winners. O’Reilly? He had 18 goals, 55 points and a -1 (which on a distinctly average Avalanche team wasn’t terrible at all). The production is therefore very similar. Both players are also considered solid two way players whose realistic ceilings are that of good, productive second line centers.

O’Reilly has about 50 more regular season NHL games under his belt than Stepan, but there are so many similarities that it does bear thinking about when approaching contract season in a few short months. Should it take more money to re-sign Stepan (and no doubt, the Rangers will keep him) it could hinder their cap situation, especially when considering the cap is coming down in advance of next season. All manner of subsequent issues then arise: Can they re-sign other players? Do they struggle to fill out the roster? Do Brad Richards and/or Marian Gaborik become compliance buy-out candidates out of necessity rather than due to their own form?

Whether Ryan O’Reilly is worth the cash the Avs have been forced to stump up will be seen over the next two years, starting next week. However in the mean time, he may have just created a financial headache for Sather and the Rangers.

16 thoughts on “How the Ryan O’Reilly contract affects Derek Stepan

  • Mar 2, 2013 at 10:17 am

    great piece

    • Mar 2, 2013 at 10:49 am

      Thanks, almost didn’t want to waste in on a weekend day! ha

  • Mar 2, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Obviously any player is going to look for the best deal, he can get. I believe O’Reilly got overpaid, which you generally have to on an offer sheet or the team will match. There are many RFA contracts that Sather can point to when this contract is brought up during talks. One thing that wont be said but known is if Stepan tries to get a home run deal, and does not preform to the level the contract expects, Sather will move him as he has done with all the others. Every player wants to get paid, but some players will take a discount at a shot to win. Does he want to risk being overpaid and moved to a non conteder for a piece Rangers feel they need. Time will tell.

    • Mar 2, 2013 at 11:22 am

      You bring up a good point. I see Stepan as the guy who will not pull a ROR. He is a team player and wants/will be part of this organization for a long time. The ROR fiasco def just brought up the value in Stepan’s next contract. Sather’s hardball will keep the contract reasonable so I see something like 2yrs @ $3.75m per year or 3yrs @ $4m per year (3, 4, 5m). Steps deserves to get paid but he won’t shoot for the moon because he wants get paid but not at the expense of the NYR’s (I hope). With a two or a three year deal, he will have time to get comfortable and then go for a big contract as he grows into the number 1 center we hope he can become.

      Thanks for the post Chris.

  • Mar 2, 2013 at 11:22 am

    Everyone knows O’Reilly isn’t a 5 mill a year player, maybe one day he will be but this isnt that day. Besides, Colorados hand was forced by Calgary so I dont see the deal as a market setter. Outliers happen and I can’t see how it can used as point of reference for Steps new deal.

    On a side note, does anyone else believe the Flames FO has been taken off speed-dial by the Av’s? or at least their Xmas basket has “shrunk” a bit.

    • Mar 2, 2013 at 11:58 am

      I thought it was pretty comical that the game after the offer sheet was submitted, Flames were AT Colorado. Would have loved to know what the atmosphere was like.

      I agree it is an outlier of sorts, but do think it will be a point of reference to some extent regardless.

      • Mar 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm

        Oh I agree, there’s no way a good agent doesn’t incorporate that bullet, no way, but in the end it will come down to his performance on the ice. As it should.

        And yeah, the League Office might have infected the Flames FO with a bad case of clownitis….

  • Mar 2, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Avs should have taken the draft picks and ROR go thru waivers and stick to Calgary. Some one would have picked him up and would only have had to pay half his salary, or is it only half salary on recall waivers

    • Mar 2, 2013 at 11:59 am

      I couldnt believe that whn I saw it. Would have been a monumental blunder that, at present, sums up the Flames franchise – a mess.

      • Mar 2, 2013 at 12:04 pm

        Unbelievable that an NHL GM doesn’t know the CBA.

  • Mar 2, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    If I’m Sather next year I’d say, “You can talk about O’Reilly all you want. You tell me if you think you deserve more than Ryan Callahan gets?”


    Step signs 4 years 15.5 mill (3.87 cap hit)


    • Mar 2, 2013 at 12:39 pm

      Good point!

  • Mar 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Interesting read, and spot on, thanks for the insight!

    Step is a team guy, wants to stay with his bud McD, understands how the Rangers operate, and is a level headed mid-west kid who won’t break balls, sign a decent contract, and develope into a #1 center for us for years to come.

    Josh made an excellent point, how can he demand, and get more than Callie? No way!! He is enjoying his stay in NYC, and probably wants to finish his career here, assuming he is treated fairly.

  • Mar 2, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    The compensation for ROR would have included a first round pick if the Avalanche didn’t match the offer sheet. What happens if a team, like the Rangers this year, don’t have a first round pick?

    • Mar 2, 2013 at 2:50 pm

      Your SOL!

  • Mar 2, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    First off Glen Sather doesn’t care what other players get. He will decide how much he wants to pay Derek Stepan and that is what he will pay Stepan.

    Second I question whether Stepan who is only a 3 year pro can be offered a deal like ROR (4 yr pro) was under the new CBA. The Avs were screwed by not being smart enough to declare they were taking ROR to arbitration when they had the chance to

    If the status regarding RFAs has not changed then Stepan doesn’t have any leverage until his 4th season. But while that is good news for the Rangers it is also bad news because both Hagelin and McDonagh who were older when they first signed their ELC are more than eligible to receive an offer sheet with the dollar figures that ROR did.


    A team can not sign a RFA to a salary like ROR has unless they have their OWN 1st round pick in the following entry draft. They can’t trade for another team’s 1st round pick to sub for their own

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