Following the news of former New York Ranger and fan favourite Brandon Dubinsky signing an excessive (market representative?) new deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets I was having a twitter chat with well-informed Ranger fan and friend of the blog George Ays (Ranger Smurf). We started discussing the Derek Stepan situation and how Dubinsky’s deal affects the talented Ranger pivot.
Derek Stepan represents a huge headache for the Rangers management. He has already proven he’ll stick to his guns and risk a holdout if he doesn’t get what he feels he deserves and if this summer has shown anything, it’s that it’s very much a sellers’ market. There truly is a dearth of available young talent at the center position. In other words, Stepan knows that if he has a strong season in 2015, he’s getting a truck load of cash.
In fact, the stark reality is that Stepan doesn’t need to be brilliant next year and he’s still going to get rewarded. A young, American forward who has been close to a point/game player (albeit in a lock-out shortened year), who has contributed heavily to a run to the Cup Final and who is arguably the top line center on an original six team? The kid is going to get paid even as a pending RFA. The next deal Stepan signs will likely buy up some UFA years and that’s where it begins to get expensive.
We’ve seen Ryan Callahan leave because of excessive demands. We’ve seen Brad Richards bought out, in part because of his contract relative to his declining play but also in part because of the impact his deal had on the ability to fill out the roster. The next deal for Stepan (and for that matter, to Marc Staal) has the potential to really hamstring the Rangers ability to fill out the roster.
Brandon Dubinsky just got $5.85m/year for six years because he’s a good two-way, team guy who gives 100% every night. Dubinsky will never be an elite scorer and he doesn’t have the upside or pure skill Stepan has. The ex-Ranger just completed his second season where he hit the 50 point mark. Stepan’s numbers eclipse those of Dubinsky and he has much more playoff production to fall back on.
You know Derek Stepan and his agent will have welcomed the Dubinsky news and you know Glen Sather will have seen it too. Chances are, Sather just snapped a big fat Cuban in anger at the deal’s announcement. Stepan’s 2014-15 season just got a little more interesting thanks to Dubinsky. Stepan will have some serious motivation to play out a strong year next year and that should be to the Rangers benefit but RFA or not, Stepan is likely to cause the Rangers a few headaches in the coming weeks and months."The lingering problem that is Derek Stepan",