With McDonagh locked up, attention turns to Stepan

July 8, 2013, by
Stepan is the next to get locked up (Photo: UPI /John Angelillo)

Stepan is the next to get locked up (Photo: UPI /John Angelillo)

In case you missed it this morning, the Rangers re-signed their single most important RFA, locking up Ryan McDonagh to a six-year deal at a cap hit of $4.7 million per season. In doing so, the Rangers got a bargain on McDonagh, who is now signed until he is 30 years old, locking up three all important UFA years at a very reasonable price. With him on board, the next step for the Rangers is to lock up their #1 center: Derek Stepan.

In June, I looked at Stepan’s pending contract and compared his current career path to that of Claude Giroux. The comparison isn’t made at their current NHL level/production, but where they both were at this point in their careers. Without re-hashing the entire post (if you haven’t read it yet, you should), their career paths are shockingly similar. This isn’t to say Stepan should get Giroux’s absurd $66.2 million over eight years, but it is to say that Stepan should look to get Giroux’s second contract – three years at around $3.75 million per year.

Although Stepan is rumored to be a candidate for an offer sheet, I’m not all that concerned. Teams are well aware of the cap situation for the Rangers ($6.5 million left to spend), but the Rangers don’t need to get to that number until the season starts. For now, they can spend 10% over the $64.3 million cap ceiling, giving them an extra $6 million to work with this summer. This doesn’t include the potential for Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin to start the season on LTIR due to their respective shoulder injuries.

The other piece to consider here is RFA compensation. Remember that compensation is done by taking AAV of the deal over five years, not over the life of the deal. In the hypothetical world that Stepan signs an eight-year, $40 million offer sheet ($5 million cap hit), the compensation is calculated by taking that $40 million and dividing it into five years ($8 million). The compensation for that: Two firsts, a second, and a third. Steep price for Stepan.

That said, the Rangers would be doing themselves –and the fans– a favor by locking up Stepan quickly. The more time that passes, the more time that we have to worry about a potential offer sheet. It’s been a long, long time since someone has attempted to poach a New York RFA, and while the salary cap keeps the Rangers from throwing absurd money at RFAs, it doesn’t stop them from getting revenge responsibly for years to come. It’s one of the benefits of having more money than half of Europe.

Stepan is the most important piece left this summer, and Slats knows this. Their first priority was McDonagh, since he was much more vulnerable to an offer sheet. With the stud defenseman locked up, we should expect Stepan to be locked up very soon.

Categories : Forwards, Offseason


  1. TxRanger says:

    Derek is quoted as saying that this is where he wants to be. I believe it was his childhood dream to be a Ranger. Hopefully he gives us a discount.

    • Dave says:

      Don’t really need a discount. Second year contracts are, by design, a discount. He has zero leverage.

  2. Walt says:

    Step said that he wanted to stay in New York, they will get a fair offer to him. Also, he is a good friend of McD, and wants to play with his college friend.

  3. Spozo says:

    At what point do you see the rangers not matching an offer sheet? 5 million per year? 5.5? 6?

    With the amount of money spent on free agency I don’t think those numbers would be completely out of the question depending on if a team had the balls to put an offer out.

    • Walt says:

      That’s the key, If they have the balls! That would be a declairtion of war, and they had better have deep pockets for the future quality players on their roster, that would be raided, or offered contracts that they would have to match, putting them in deep poo poo!!!!

      • Centerman21 says:

        Good point. A team like Nashville with Weber or say Columbus, Carolina, Tampa Bay, or even right now a few of the other cash strapped teams. The GM’s of the NHL would have to get a doctors note saying they have mental issues because Sather would make life for that team a living hell for a long time. You don’t send offer sheets to players in big market teams like the NY Rangers or Leafs, Flyers! In the case of one of those teams I hope the do try to send an offer sheet at Stepan. I don’t know he’d sign it but the Rangers would get a load of compensation picks. We can match it too. For Stepan I would.

    • Dave says:

      Remember that Stepan needs to sign the offer sheet, in addition to having some team try and poach him.

  4. John says:

    Good write up Dave, I think this basically means we sign Stepan. No worries!

  5. Centerman21 says:

    Yeah Stepan has no arbitration rights at this time so that should work in his favor. If Mac got 4.7 mil which is a bargain for three of his UFA years. Then Stepan could conceivably get between 3-4 mil per. For 3 years and still be an RFA when his deal is done. Stepan is such a great kid and my favorite Ranger. There’s no doubt in my mind that he will be our top Centerman with or without Richards on the team. I think as good an offensive player Brassard is he would fit as the 3rd line Center over Richards. Brass had a bit more nastiness to his game and you like to see that.
    The thing that held Stepan back from the kind of season he had last year was his shot and how seldom he used it. Last season on a 2 on 1 he shot the puck for a change. Goalies gave him the short side a lot because he’d always pass the puck. He’s so patient and creative, if he continues to shoot to keep goalies off balance. He’s on his way to becoming a star.
    The Rangers have to sign Faulk and Zuc as well but both can be signed to 2 way deals and sent to Hartford. Saving cap space.
    I’d like to ask anyone that knows. Teams can go 10% over the cap(6.43mil) until the regular season starts? Is that right. And Powe & Asham cap hits are still on the Rangers books. I thought they come off after clearing waivers and only a small percentage of it remains. Ie 100,000 & 75,000 respectively. Is that right? I did the math and they’re both still on the books as of today