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.
Jeff Gorton keeps on impressing, signing two more RFAs in Jesper Fast and J.T. Miller. Miller surprised a few by taking his qualifying offer of one year at $874,130. Fast signed a two year deal worth $950,000 per season. which is exactly what I had him pegged at. Gorton’s ability to get both Miller and Etem to sign their QOs should be seen as a tremendous victory, as the Rangers now have ample cap space to get Derek Stepan under contract.
Both Miller and Fast will continue to have significant roles with the team next year.
Jeff Gorton continues to cross things off his to-do list, this time inking RFA defenseman Dylan McIlrath. The deal is for one-year at $600,000. McIlrath needs to clear waivers this year (as does Lindberg), so this is a definitive “show me” deal. Show me that you can play at the NHL level.
McIlrath, the Rangers oft-criticized 1st round pick in 2010, showed significant improvements last season, but is still viewed by many as a long shot for the NHL. He’s not going to light the lamp, but the Rangers are hoping he can play a decent stay-at-home game while serving as a brutal physical force. Skating will be his biggest issue.
The Rangers have re-signed one of their four NHL RFAs, locking up Emerson Etem to an undisclosed contract. Etem’s qualifying offer was $850,500 for a one year deal, but it is unknown if he accepted that deal (unlikely) or the Jeff Gorton negotiated a two-year bridge deal. I projected Etem to come in around $1 million just this afternoon, so it will be interesting to see what he got.
Etem was acquired at the draft for Carl Hagelin, and has a line of 15-16-31 in 112 games thus far. The former first round pick has a lot of talent, but has yet to put it all together.
Update: Apparently Etem signed his one year qualifying offer, at a cap hit of $850,500. Did not expect that.
The New York Rangers have agreed to terms with another restricted free agent in Hartford (Marek Hrivik was the first), this time around it was Oscar Lindberg. Lindberg put up 28-28-56 in 75 games with the Wolf Pack last season, and would have been a call up in the playoffs had Hartford not made a run.
Lindberg is probably Hartford’s best skater, and is a likely front runner for the 12F spot (assuming Tanner Glass is the 13F). Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but it will be a relatively cheap contract.
Update: Lindberg’s deal is two years at a $650,000 cap hit.
While all the attention lately has been on Derek Stepan and his arbitration hearing, there are three other key RFAs that need to be signed to fill out the roster. Perhaps the most important aspect of signing Emerson Etem, J.T. Miller, and Jesper Fast –who will all be getting bridge deals– is that they are going to be relatively cheap bridge deals, and will help the Rangers stay under the cap.
All three forwards are coming off their entry level deals, and all none of them have much leverage. Miller and Fast didn’t crack the NHL with any regularity until this season when they both found key roles on the Rangers. Etem still hasn’t found a regular role and, despite his talents, has spent a lot of time on the fourth line. That doesn’t make for much bargaining power.
Derek Stepan’s arbitration date has been set for July 27. While it is unlikely that this goes to arbitration, the Rangers and Stepan now have exactly two weeks to get a deal done before that arbitration date. If a deal is not reached, then there will be a one or two year amount given by the arbitrator. The Rangers then have the option of walking away from the awarded amount, making Stepan a free agent. That’s extremely unlikely to happen.
My guess is that this will go to the final hours, and we will probably see a deal during the weekend of July 25/26.
Well folks, summer time is here. The Rangers have some business to attend to, but aside from the four RFAs, there won’t be much news coming in Rangerland. But that doesn’t mean the blog shuts down. We will continue giving you daily content all summer long. But I wanted to let you all know about some features on the site that you may have missed.
First, there have been requests for weekly mailbags, and I am more than happy to oblige. There is a section in the sidebar called Mailbag, and you should use that to send me any questions you have. I will get to questions once per week, most likely on Saturdays.
Next, check out our Hockey Systems page. If you haven’t read those posts, you should. They give you in-depth analysis on the major systems teams like to use, and goes into how Alain Vigneault has his guys playing. Also, be sure to check out the complete 2015 Draft Page, where we have Josh’s previews, and our full recaps from the draft.
One final thing: I know you don’t have to use our BSB Tickets link to buy tickets. But if you’re going to a third party for tickets, it would be greatly appreciated if you could support the blog as well. Not saying to go and spend your life savings on tickets, just saying that if you happen to be going to a third party for tickets, why not ours?
I’m going to be working on some back-end stuff this summer, and Josh is working on a pretty big salary cap project. Stay tuned for that. As always, email me using the Mailbag on the right if you have any questions.