Estimating the Derek Stepan contract using Claude Giroux’s current deal

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Rangers have a lot of work to do this offseason. In addition to addressing the glaring holes in the lineup, they need to do everything they can to re-sign their core RFAs (Ryan McDonagh, Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan). Of the three core RFAs, who are all about to receive their second NHL contracts, only Stepan is not eligible for arbitration. It’s unfortunate for Stepan, as he finished the season as the Rangers leading scorer. He loses a lot of leverage without arbitration.

Estimating Stepan’s contract is tough. The Rangers haven’t had to re-up a player on their second deal the season after he led the team in scoring. In fact, the closest situation the Rangers have had to the Stepan situation is Brandon Dubinsky’s second contract, and the only similarity there is that neither player is/was arbitration eligible. For this, we need to go to other organizations to determine market value. We don’t need to go far to estimate the Stepan contract. Philadelphia had a very similar situation with Claude Giroux after the 2010-2011 season.

Giroux came to mind immediately because we’ve written about his second contract before. Currently Giroux is on a three-year, $11.25 million deal, which is a $3.75 million cap hit. The young center was coming off his entry-level deal and led his team in scoring. Giroux was not arbitration eligible, and the cap ceiling for the upcoming 2011-2012 season was $64.3 million. Not only are the outside factors almost identical, the scoring pace for the two players is almost identical (games played in parenthesis):

1st year 2nd year 3rd year
Giroux 27 (42) 47 (82) 76 (82)
Stepan 45 (82) 51 (82) 44 (48)

It’s a bit scary how similar these situations are. Both players are within five points for each year on their ELC. Both players had since earned the top line center spot in their third year. Both players are core members of their respective clubs for many, many years. I can bet you my life savings that Stepan’s agent is looking at the Giroux deal and using it as a benchmark.

This is usually the part of the post where I go ahead and use other factors and players to get a better estimate of a player’s worth. However, that’s not really necessary with the Stepan/Giroux contract comparison. The cap ceiling is the same. The point totals are virtually identical. Neither had arbitration rights. Both led the team in scoring. Both are the top center. It’s all in black and white.

Stepan’s contract, in my eyes, is the easiest contract to estimate. The terms may differ –Slats rarely gives out more than two-year bridge contracts, with the lone exception being Marc Staal– but we should be in the ballpark of approximately $3.75 million. Given Slats’ prior history with second contracts, let’s place a safe bet on Stepan getting two or three years at a cap hit of $3.5 million to $4 million.

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  • Great write up Dave… i look at the long term value of Stepan when thinking about his contract. What would it hurt to lock him up for the next 6-8 years. My though process behind this is as follows: If you lock him up now for a long time, we can get a great production for a cheaper price. A shorter deal may end up costing us more when he needs to resign heading into his prime. The 8 year deal would lock him up until the ripe old age of 30 lol. This would mean his entire prime of his career is at a reasonable cap hit. If we could convince him to sign a 8 year 36-40 million dollar contract with a very manageable cap hit of 4.5-5 this can really help us out for the long run

  • Paying Stepan compensation comparable to Giroux would be ludicrous. There is a world of difference between these two players, and Stepan will never reach the offensive capabilities of Giroux; and I’ve never seen Stepan dominate a game the way Giroux has done on occasion. Stepan is a fine player, no doubt. But implying he is equal to Giroux is a big stretch, in my view.

    • Paying Stepan comparable to what Giroux is now is ludicrous. Paying Stepan comparable to what Giroux was at the end of his ELC is market value.

  • Fair value is very subjective, but Step has earned a contract in the $3-$4 mil per range. He said he wanted to stay, maybe Slats signs him for 4-5 years, and everyone will be happy.

    If we keep Step happy, and not try to squeez blood out of him, then I believe it makes it easier to re-sign McD as well. These two are great friends, went to the same school, and I believe McD also wants to stay here, so treat them both fair!

  • I like the comparisons between where Stepan is now and where Giroux was at, but I think there are a couple differences.

    Stepan putting up big numbers in a shortened season only hurts his cause. Sure they’ll probably pro-rate his numbers to a full season, but it doesn’t help that he didn’t have 82 games. That’s good for the Rangers.

    The second difference is in 2009-10 Giroux had a monster playoff performance. That performance made it easier for the Flyers to give him the money he wanted and that made up for any shortcomings Giroux may have had points wise the couple years before that.

    IMO, I’m going to say Stepan gets $3.5-$3.75 million and no more than $3.75. He’s not in a position to play hard ball, and he doesn’t seem like the kind of person that would try (of course I’m basing this off absolutely nothing and just how I percieve him as a person).

    I’m interested to see if Stepan can hit that 70 point plateau in a full season and take that next step as a player. It’s one thing to do it in a pro-rated year, but being a consistent player all year in a 82 game season is something else.

  • Love to see comparisons like that one. It just goes to show that Stepan still has time to reach all-star caliber. I don’t think he will ever have the silky hands that Giroux does, but Stepan knows the game better than most, and he gets his points by being in the right place at the right time. Just look at his goal against the B’s in the playoffs when he stole in from Chara and put it in the open net. The play looks like a mistake by the Bruins, but that was simply Stepan understanding the flow of the game and taking advantage of some laziness by the Bruins. You can’t teach that kind of skill. I think he is going to have an enormous season next year playing alongside Nash, and his confidence will propel him to a 70-80 point season. Can’t believe the kid is only 22…his future is bright. Definitely sign him for a minimum of 3 years, but it could be worth making a longer investment because this kid is the present and the future.

  • Excellent article. This is exactly what Steph’s agent will use. Giroux is the comparison that the Rangers will be faced with. My guess is that a compromise is that Steph gets the $4 million per, but the Rangers tack on a 4th year.

    • I’m more inclined to lean the other way. Slats rarely gives out bridge deals longer than two years. I think he gets less money for less years, with a chance to earn more if he continues to perform.

  • Agent will use Jamie Benn contract 5 year/$26.25M. I could also see a Playoff caliber team with chance at Cup signing to offer sheet. At $5M/year (O’Reilly deal), worth a team giving up late 1st Rd (and 3rd Rd) picks for Stepan. Imagine teams like Ottawa having discussion.

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