Derek Stepan signed yesterday, as new GM Jeff Gorton fit the final piece of the offseason puzzle into place. Stepan’s deal came in at six years, $39 million ($6.5 million cap hit). The deal has a full no trade for the first four years, and then a limited no trade for the final two (I believe). Stepan has a no-move clause throughout, meaning he can’t be sent to the AHL.
- This is a solid deal for both sides. There is no doubt that Stepan left money on the table, probably about $300k per year, or $1.8 million total. That’s no small amount. The deal fits under the cap for this year and in the future, and locks up their 1C through age 31. As for Stepan, he ensures he gets at least one more big payday when this contract expires.
- A few folks have issues with the length of the deal, but I don’t quite understand that. If Stepan were 30, then I would understand. But the kid is 25, and this deal locks up his prime years. The decline starts in the mid-30s, not the mid-20s.
The New York Rangers have agreed to terms with RFA center Derek Stepan on a multi-year contract. Per Larry Brooks, it is a six year deal worth $6.5 million per year. This makes Stepan the second highest paid skater on the Rangers (Rick Nash) at just 25 years old. The deal expires when Stepan is 31, so the Rangers are locking up Stepan’s prime years at a relative bargain price. The deal has a no-trade clause for the early years and a no-move clause for the last years.
Stepan put up a career high pace last year, with a line of 16-39-55 in 68 games. Stepan missed the first 14 games of the season with a broken fibula, the first injury of his career that forced him to miss regular season time. When you average that out to 82 games, he was on pace for 19 goals and 66 points.
Just a quick update on the Derek Stepan arbitration process: The Rangers have elected a one-year arbitration award for Stepan. If this goes to arbitration, Stepan will get a one-year deal, meaning he will be an RFA next year as well. This isn’t all that surprising, as it ensures the Rangers get one more crack at a long term deal.
Again, this likely isn’t getting to arbitration. I’m expecting both sides to come to terms this afternoon. The Rangers submitted a $5.2 million offer, while Stepan submitted $7.25 million. Since the numbers are pretty close in arbitration, it’s a fair assumption that both sides are close.
Derek Stepan’s arbitration date is tomorrow, and he will be the talk of Rangerland until the day he signs. So here are some things to expect to hear over the next two days.
1. Everyone will flip out over Stepan’s asking price.
Stepan is asking for $7.25 million in arbitration. Insert rage here.
In reality, Stepan’s asking price is actually reasonable. He’s worth more than that on the open market, but for some reason people have an aversion to signing homegrown players to large contracts. The kid is 25 years old and was on a 66 point pace over a full 82 games. He did this while dragging around a 41-year-old and clearly lost it Martin St. Louis on his line.
2. No one will have an issue with the Rangers’ price.
Just one question this week, but it’s an important one. As always, you can submit questions for the mailbag by using the form on the right.
Tyler asks: Do you think Kreider’s next contract will be close to Gustav Nyquist deal? I’d say those two are pretty close comparables.
That’s a difficult question to answer at the moment, since this season will play a large role in the contract Chris Kreider receives. This year, Kreider has a cap hit of $2.475 million, but is getting $2.6 million in salary. That means his qualifying offer will be $2.6 million. Nyquist’s new deal is four years at a $4.75 million cap hit.
Nyquist will turn 26 when the season starts, so his new contract buys two RFA years and two UFA years. Kreider will turn 25 in April 2016, so his new contract will also buy two RFA years, with any remaining term buying UFA years. Remember that unrestricted free agency is determined by the age of the player in June of the offseason, so Nyquist’s late birthday actually hurts him here.
In news that pretty much surprised everyone, Lou Lamoriello has resigned as President of the New Jersey Devils, and has joined the Toronto Maple Leafs as their General Manager. Lamoriello stepped down as Devils GM this summer, paving the way for Ray Shero to take over that role. Toronto had been without a GM all summer, with Kyle Dubas and Mark Hunter performing most of the work.
My guess is that Lamoriello will be serving as a mentor for Dubas and Hunter until they are ready to take over the role full time. They’ve both done a great job with free agency and the draft, so I doubt Lamoriello messes with that.
The Rangers appear to be done for the summer, with just Derek Stepan the lone remaining checkbox on new GM Jeff Gorton’s list of to-dos. But there are always little moves that can be done to improve the roster, and one of those moves could be bringing in free agent winger Alex Semin on the cheap.
Semin was just bought out of the last three years of his deal in Carolina, a deal that paid him $7 million a year. The buyout will pay him $2.3 million until 2021. Due to this, folks are assuming Semin may be more willing to accept a one-year deal for under $2 million. While this may or may not be true, there is no denying that Semin’s talent at that cost could be a steal.
Four questions for this week’s mailbag. As always, use the mailbag feature on the right to send us questions throughout the week.
Q: What do you think Derek Stepan is worth? What will he actually get?
I had to trim this question down a bit, since the email had about five paragraphs. I think Stepan is worth that $7 million number that seems to scare everyone. If you think about this in percent of cap, that’s 10% of the cap. I certainly think Stepan is worth that. As cap inflation, which is a real thing, rises, then the percent of that hit goes down. It may not go down much, but the alternative is to trade him? For what? This team is in win-now mode for good reason, and Stepan-Brassard-Hayes-Moore is a lot better than Brassard-Hayes-Lindberg-Moore.
In the end, I think he gets $6 million for his last two RFA years, matching what Ryan O’Reilly got in his last two RFA years, then an average of $7 million for the last four years. That averages out to $6.67 million per year. Well worth it for a 25 year old center, and the contract expires when he’s 31 years old.
Much discussion has been had about Derek Stepan and his pending arbitration on July 27. I took a stab at predicting his contract, but that was before the Ryan O’Reilly deal ($7.5m AAV, all UFA years) and Ryan Kesler ($6.875m, all UFA years) were signed. The ROR deal doesn’t help matters at all, especially since Stepan and ROR are almost identical in terms of production and role.
Stepan is the better player than Kesler, but Kesler has name brand value. Kesler’s deal actually helps the Rangers, because he is perceived as the better player, although that is far from the truth nowadays.
I think Stepan gets $6 million for his two remaining RFA years (equal to what ROR got for his final RFA years). I think that gets bumped to an average of $7 million for the UFA years signed, and let’s shoot for four years. That puts Stepan at six years and $40 million, or a $6.67 million cap hit. Just my updated guess.
So what do you think Stepan is worth? Personally, I think he’s worth north of $7 million, which is 10% of the cap. I prefer to look at things in terms of percent of cap, since cap inflation is absolutely real. As the cap increases, Stepan’s deal will count towards less percent of the cap, thus making it a relative bargain. Plus, he’s 25 now, so it’s not like the Rangers are buying his 30-year-old years.
Jeff Gorton has just one more RFA to re-sign (Derek Stepan), as he has inked RFA defenseman Mat Bodie to a one-year, $575,000 deal. Bodie’s QO was actually abode $900,000, but he took less at the NHL level to gain more of an AHL salary ($80,000, up from $70,000). This is a smart move on Bodie’s part, as he is likely to spend this year in the AHL. The Rangers have seven defensemen at the NHL level, and Dylan McIlrath/Brady Skjei appear to be ahead of him on the depth chart.
Bodie put up 5-27-32 in his first season in the AHL last year. He was signed as an undrafted UFA out of Union College.
Also, worth noting that War-On-Ice has the Marek Hrivik contract details: one year at $575,000. Hrivik also got a nice bump at the AHL level, going from $65,000 to $80,000.