Does Steven Stamkos at a higher cap hit make more sense than Derek Stepan?

Stamkos vs. Stepan. Who wins?
Stamkos vs. Stepan. Who wins?

One of the more prominent rumors to come out of the weekend is that the Rangers are clearing salary in an attempt to go after Steven Stamkos. Since the source of the rumor hasn’t necessarily been right on much –Malkin to the Kings?– it’s something worth discussing, as the Rangers would need to create a spot at center for Stamkos. That means moving Derek Stepan.

When you hear the names, you think that these two aren’t even in the same ballpark. And if this were five years ago, you’d be right. That was when Stamkos put up three straight years of at least 45 goals (51, 45, 60) from 2009-2012. Since then, his goal totals have been 29, 25, 43, 36. Point totals 57, 40, 72, 64. Solid numbers, but not “blown away” numbers.

Stepan, who is actually four months younger than Stamkos, has three straight years of at least 50 points (57, 55. 53). Now those are still worse than Stamkos’ stats, but let’s just isolate even strength time for now. Don’t worry, we will get to powerplay time.

Over the past three seasons –when Stepan started playing top line minutes– the two have almost identical even strength stats. It’s pretty amazing actually. At even strength, Stepan has averaged 2.10 points-per-60-minutes, where Stamkos is actually at 2.09 P/60. Edge here goes to Stepan. But Stamkos produced more primary points/60 (1.9 to 1.62 for Stepan). Edge there goes to Stamkos.

Using relative Corsi –This compares each player to the team’s success with and without him on the ice, which makes for more accurate comparisons across teams. Tampa was a much better possession team than the Rangers, so the raw numbers favor Stamkos. Relative puts them on an even playing field and evens out strength of team.– we see they are comparable as well (Stepan at -.04, Stamkos at 0.21).

So at even strength, Stepan and Stamkos are arguably very similar. The primary difference is style of play, as Stamkos is a shooter and commands attention. Stepan prefers to create and dish the puck out.

Stamkos has the big edge between the two players is on the powerplay, and that’s where the raw goals/points totals shift drastically towards the former first overall pick. Over the past three seasons, Stepan has a line of 13-29-42 on the powerplay. Stamkos is just slightly better at 36-25-61 in that same span. That’s what you’re paying for.

There are a number of external factors at play here, but it’s almost impossible to quantify how bad the Rangers’ powerplay has been. So let’s disregard this and just look at the style of the two players, and why they have such drastically different numbers with the man advantage.

We’ve all screamed at Stepan on the powerplay for his apparent refusal to take a one-timer from the off-wing. It’s maddening because that’s where we see players like Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin teeing up all the time with great success. Stamkos, as mentioned, fires with impunity. His teammates know he will get to open ice in the 1-3-1 and he knows to grip it and rip it. And that is what the Rangers sorely need on the poweprlay.

In a vacuum, trading Stepan and signing Stamkos does make sense if just for that one reason. The Rangers have needed that right-handed shot on the off-wing forever, and something we’ve been calling out for as long as I can remember. When Kevin Klein is your best right-handed shoot-first player, there’s a problem. Stamkos solves that problem.

The concern is the salary involved. Stepan makes $6.5 million for the next five seasons. Stamkos is likely to get Patrick Kane money ($10.5 million over at least six years, probably seven). Is powerplay production worth $4 million additional in cap space?

There is no correct answer here, because the Rangers can’t afford to simply move Stepan and sign Stamkos. More moves need to be made to fit Stamkos under the cap in this situation. Rick Nash seems the most logical player to move at this point, but even then, is that enough?

There is one correct answer to that question: No, it is not enough to trade Stepan and Nash and sign Stamkos. It would be a sideways move. It’s a message from the front office. “Look at the shiny new toy we got you. Stop complaining. We tried.” It’s a splash. It doesn’t address the issues.

Splashes get you nowhere nowadays. If the Rangers don’t address the two anchors on the blue line, then this team will go nowhere. If the club insists that going into the season with both Marc Staal and Dan Girardi in prominent roles, then we will see status quo, while other teams get better.

Stamkos would be a nice upgrade at 1C because he’s a shooter and he converts on the powerplay. But without addressing the real issues, Rangers fans will be disappointed again next season. That’s a guarantee.

"Does Steven Stamkos at a higher cap hit make more sense than Derek Stepan?", 5 out of 5 based on 25 ratings.

46 thoughts on “Does Steven Stamkos at a higher cap hit make more sense than Derek Stepan?

  • Jun 20, 2016 at 6:35 am

    enter the lazy “but Stepan isn’t even a 1c” argument…..

  • Jun 20, 2016 at 7:33 am

    Thanks Dave for a well written article, and justifying why I’m against signing Stamkos at all…..

    The guy is terrific, or at least was until a few years back, but it appears the numbers show he isn’t what he used to be?????????? He was on a team with terrific players, a load of talent, case in point the Triplets, and yet the numbers decline. Now having said that, what would happen should his numbers dip some more over the next few years?????? The fan base would be screaming get rid of the bum, we’re paying way too much for so little return, and he doesn’t even PK, where as Nash at least plays sound defense.

    Let’s not fall into the same old trap, the marquee needs a big name, he will draw fans, etc., etc., and we continue to go nowhere…… Bottom line, if I’m to spend $10.5 mil a year, I want the cup every year that player is on my team, and Steve won’t deliver us a cup by himself.

    Now let the thumbs down begin !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Jun 20, 2016 at 7:41 am

    All that money for a player who still is very good, but has declined the past three years? Stamkos may rebound to super-stardom, because he is still young, but is it worth the risk and the big cost?
    When Stephan is healthy and on his game, he is an excellent all around player. I would trade Bassard before Stephan, because he is not as versatile as Stephen.
    Also Stephen is capable of scoring between 50-60 points along with his very good defensive game. As much as I would love to see him in a Ranger uniform, a large Stamkos contract would really cripple the Rangers in the long run. Likely, not happening unless bonehead cigar man gets involved.

    • Jun 20, 2016 at 7:50 am

      Too much cap space on one man, not a very sound policy is it??????

      If we think that we’re in a tight cap crunch now, what then ???????

      We have to pass on him at this time !!!!!!!!!!

  • Jun 20, 2016 at 7:52 am

    The Rangers need to go out and grab Kevin Shattenkirk. A righty shot with good 2-way ability is a must for the NYR top 4. Shatty is from NY State originally and I think he’s a great fit. He’s only signed thru next season but at a very team friendly $4.25 mil. He’s a guy you pay to lock up long term IMO. He could pair with McDonagh as the Rangers 2-way top pair or use him as a 3rd defenseman to spread out the talent. Either way it’s a fit in my eyes.
    Stepan can give you very close to what Stamkos does but he was kind of being weened off in TB. As the Rangers featured guy on the PP, he might just return to past scoring levels. They would have to clear Stepan and possibly Nash to fit Stamkos so I doubt that ever gets done. Contracts like Nash’ are going to be treated like a hot potato heading into the expansion draft.

  • Jun 20, 2016 at 8:52 am

    What’s the hero chart look like between Stamkos & Kane? Or Justin’s chart? If it was an escalating cap environment, you could talk about $10mm. At this point, I’d be amazed to see more than $8.5 from anybody except maybe FLA. makes no sense to be a year from getting out of cap Hell just to get into 5 more years of cap Hell with a guy trending wrong.

    On top of that, who do you slot with Stamkos? Hayes on the wing makes for bad looks, but at C you need your RW to be backcheck 1st. Miller would be better on the right.

  • Jun 20, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Perhaps the answer is:

    – no, to Stamkos at $10.5mm long-term; and

    – no, to Stepan, at $6.5mm long-term

    Both are over-valued at those cap hits.

    • Jun 20, 2016 at 10:07 am

      The notion that Stepan is overvalued at 6.5 mil is absurd.

      Curious if there is 1 center who outproduces Stepan at a 6 million dollar salary floor who is at least on his 3rd contract. In other words, elc and bridge deal guys don’t count. Reason being…when they are up for their 3rd (big money) contract, they will dwarf Stepan’s 6.5 mil cap hit.

      • Jun 20, 2016 at 12:39 pm

        Derek Brassard? Kyle Turris? Jeff Carter? they are probably 3 reasonable comparisons for starters. An apples-to-apples comparison may be difficult to perfectly lineup so no need to pick apart why these 3 are not good comps.

        Am sure a detailed review can uncover others. And Stepan makes $6.5mm per season, fyi.

        • Jun 20, 2016 at 12:54 pm

          Obviously we’re talking cap hits, not dollars over life of contract.

          Great call on Carter, but not really apples to apples. He signed before the latest lockout and therefore was able to ink an 11 yr contract. If he signed after 2014, he’d be north of 8 mil.

          Turris is on his second contract..

          Production wise, Turris is no better than Stepan. The two are about as equal (age, production, etc) as you can get. The difference in contract is that he signed a 5 year 3.5mil per deal when is ELC expired. The Rangers don’t really do that. Stepan signed a bridge deal at that age and once that expired, cashed in. In 2 years, Turris will be making almost identical dollars to Stepan, but will be 28 years old, as opposed to 25 (when Stepan inked his deal). I think we prefer giving the 6 yr deal to a proven 25 yr old over a 28yo any day, given how production tends to decline early these days.

          Very well done coming up with comparables, but aside from Brassard, the other two don’t do much for the ‘Stepan is paid too much’ crowd.

          • Jun 20, 2016 at 7:06 pm

            Like I said, if I had time to invest I feel confident there are good comparable out there. These 3 were immediate “hits”

            Perhaps the Rangers should do 5yr deals off ELC?

            I cannot get too comfy with a $6.5mm center who is mediocre on the PP; poor on face-offs and pots 18-21 goals preseason, even with all of Stepan’s +ve attributes.

      • Jun 20, 2016 at 3:58 pm

        I just laugh because you make excuse for Stepan with conditions. How about 3rd contract, first wife and 3rd child. How about this would you trade Stepan and all his greatness for Toews straight up.

        • Jun 20, 2016 at 4:04 pm

          No. I would not in a cap world.

          And, very simply, the reason for criteria is to justify a cap hit which is a direct product of other players within the confines of the same criteria as he is.

    • Jun 20, 2016 at 12:13 pm

      AD you have hit it right on the head. Rangers look to the quick to much. No to Stamkos and get rid of Stepan. Both players will not live up to their contracts.

      • Jun 20, 2016 at 12:39 pm

        Stepan is already living up to his contract.

        • Jun 20, 2016 at 12:42 pm

          to my way of thinking a $6.5mm center who is mediocre on the PP, poor on face-offs and who pots ~18-21 goals per season is not worth $6.5mm

          I’d use the cap space a bit differently

          • Jun 20, 2016 at 2:43 pm

            Do tell… I would love to hear about how great your Cap team would be.

          • Jun 20, 2016 at 3:50 pm

            A 25 year old 60+ point center that plays in all phases of the games (5v5, PP, PK) is absolutely worth $6.5M a year.

            I’m curious, how much lower would Stepan’s cap hit need to be for you to be comfortable with it?

            How do feel about Toews? $10.5M cap hit with only 58 points in 80 games last year.

            • Jun 20, 2016 at 4:09 pm

              How do you feel Stepan NO cups. TOEWS that’s how it reads on the SC. Points don’t win games GOALS and LEADERSHIP do. Stepan isn’t MARK MESSIER.

              • Jun 20, 2016 at 4:19 pm

                Uh … sure

            • Jun 20, 2016 at 7:07 pm

              Stepan at $5.5mm is, in my view, fair value.

        • Jun 21, 2016 at 6:13 am

          Chris,every time I read your comments I say this guy gets it. Stepan is gonna probably get even better. Just like Brassard has since he got his contract. I also agree with what you said about the Yandle deal. If the Rangers signed Stamkos I guarantee in no time everyone would be saying he’s overpaid and crying like they do about Nash. Only Nash kills penalties and plays D also. Thanks for making sense, Chris. I’m amazed at some of the other comments I read from people

  • Jun 20, 2016 at 9:23 am

    Apparently full schedule released today!! Time to start planning the road trips and homestands for the next 10 months. I know I’ll be on TC for the prospect tourney and miss the 1st 10 days of the season.

  • Jun 20, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Nice work, Dave. Agree 100%

  • Jun 20, 2016 at 9:35 am

    TBL had nearly 100 more power play minutes than NYR last year and scored 2….two…(2)… More goals on the PP. 43 to 41.

    As a couple of people have said, it’s not the Rangers offense that is killing us, it’s the defense and PK. Our possession game is awful. And if we don’t address the D what do you get?

    Some other interesting questions?. What Ranger back liner led the team in PP minutes? Shatty is a FA next year? Would you trade for him knowing he might not sign?

    Why don’t the Rangers draw penalties?

    • Jun 20, 2016 at 3:35 pm

      Need to have the puck in order to draw penalties.

  • Jun 20, 2016 at 9:47 am

    Nice article to start the week!

    If the lightening had SS for the playoffs and he was healthy and playing, they could have beaten Pittsburg.. If the Rangers were a better team and we had SS as well, maybe we could win a cup?

    SS is a difference maker, I think the real concern for me is that the Rangers (Nash) do not have a difference maker…

    can we replace Nash with SS?


  • Jun 20, 2016 at 10:08 am

    The one thing that is very rarely mentioned is that NO moves that the Rangers do, don’t, could, would, or should, make happen in a vacuum. What has to be taken into consideration are the actions that other teams, not even necessarily the ones involved in any deal, might, or will, or will not, make to pre-empt a Ranger move, or in response to it. Needless to say, that adds multiple layers of complexity to predicting or analyzing any moves, and we, the fans, will probably never know all of the thinking that goes on across the league to impact the deals.

    • Jun 20, 2016 at 10:14 am

      That’s deep, brother

  • Jun 20, 2016 at 10:17 am

    That the Rangers are focusing on forwards instead of the tire fire that is our defense (even with Lundqvist), speaks greatly to how dysfunctional and myopic the front office is.

    • Jun 20, 2016 at 10:23 am

      Conjecture. Speculation. Hearsay.

    • Jun 20, 2016 at 12:50 pm

      My worry is the seeming need to do something. We can disagree about Girardi and Staal. However, let’s suppose the front office either can’t or chooses not to move that duo. It’s not clear changing the team is really in order, yet they feel the fans demand something.

      Let’s remember what happened this year – the Rangers were ousted from the playoffs by the eventual Cup champion, same as 2014 and better than 2015 when they fell to an also-ran.

    • Jun 20, 2016 at 2:47 pm

      How do you know that?

  • Jun 20, 2016 at 10:38 am

    I like about we dump Nash if we can for draft picks…keep Stepah and then bring in Stamkos…

  • Jun 20, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    I noticed you looked at three years instead of two. Over two years, I think you would find very different numbers. Stamkos was still an elite player in 2013-2014, whereas he has been far from elite the last two years. When you add in defensive responsibility and penalty killing, Stepan is unquestionably the better player at the moment.

    IF Stamkos returns to his form of several years back, he will be a very valuable addition. However, it is a big gamble. The Rangers have a poor track record with these kinds of gambles.

    My personal feel is that he was great when he was the star, not so great when TB was a more balanced and better team. AV’s coaching style is not predicated on relying on stars. Not a good sign. OTOH, he might really thrive playing with Zuke.

  • Jun 20, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    All you people saying not to go after Stamkos, are hypocrites . I’m sure you all would scoff at trading Lundquist because you think he’s only reason we win? 8.5 million per for next 5 seasons. He’s 34 and Definately not getting back to top form. I’d rather sign a guy who has scored the 2nd most goals since coming into league and is only 26 . In 7 years he’ll still be younger than Lundquist is now! And I’d rather trade Brassard than Stepan. Get rid of Klein. Everyone said same crap last year when Kessel was available and look what happened. If Tampa re signs or worse, Isles maybe get him, we’ll be kicking ourselves in ass. When you subtract expiring contracts (Boyle, Stahlberg, Moore, Staal, and Yandle) we can replace with younger, entry level guys. Ducks overloaded with young d men and pretty sure they’re interested in Nash. There biggest need is left wing . Maybe some kind of deal for Cam Fowler.

    • Jun 20, 2016 at 1:25 pm

      yeah, cuz Montreal did real good up there without Price, and Pitt didn’t need the flower to make that comeback… and oh yeah washington picks up the presidents trophy without Hotlby…

      Stick with Hank, we need that sort of chance, at least for the next few years bud!

      pass that Dutchie man!!!

    • Jun 20, 2016 at 1:35 pm

      You can’t trade Lundqvist as he has a NMC. So that angle of the argument is over. Stamkos is on a very good team, yet isn’t the king bed on his own team. And we give him what for the down trend?

  • Jun 20, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    Too many people are forgetting stammer has had some unlucky Injurys these last couple of years if the rangers are going to peruse him trade Step too minny for dumba and first trade Nash too Detroit for nyquist

  • Jun 20, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    Forgetting about the Stamkos/Stepan debate for a minute. You have to be very sure you are not getting damaged goods with Stamkos at the prices people are taking about. Let’s say Stamkos is 100% healthy with no chance of a recurring bloodclot, then I think his future is brighter than Stepan’s. 35% brighter? Hmmmm, maybe, but that is tough because he will cost you at least 35% more than Stepan. Now factor in the injury factor. I am not a Stepan fan, but not sure you can place a heavy bet without a lot of insurance on Stamkos. Now, if Stamkos would sign a 4 year deal at $10 per, I would move Stepan to make cash available to sign him, but I doubt he wants only 4 years.

    More than that is a very risky deal.

    • Jun 20, 2016 at 3:55 pm

      Yeah, the bloodclot issue is a massive risk. We just watched the same thing happen to Pascal Dupuis over the past 18 months. Who’s to say Stamkos only has a handful of games left in his career before he’s forced to retire like Dupuis did?

  • Jun 20, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    Here’s what the Rangers must do.

    Trade Stepan and others to Minnesota for Matt Dumba

    Trade Nash and other pieces to The Blues for Shattenkirk

    Trade one of these 3: Kreider, Miller, or Hayes for a salary dump/prospect/draft picks (Kreider for Jacob Trouba?)

    Sign Stamkos to a 6 year 62.5 million dollar deal

    Let Yandle go.

    Trade Klein as a salary dump/ picks

    Defense: Trouba, Mcdonagh, Dumba, , Stall, Shattenkirk, Mclirath/Girardi

    Power play: Stamkos, Mcdonagh, , Brassard, Shattenkirk, Zucc


    • Jun 20, 2016 at 4:07 pm

      Salary dump….Toruba….. come again…. Trouba is rumored to be seeking a 6-7 mil annual cap hit in his next contract. Most likely will settle for less, but be aware that he is due for a massive raise over his expiring ELC.

  • Jun 20, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    Dave, I when talking about the trading of Stepan/Nash to make room for Stamkos you say its not enough to improve the team because it doesn’t address the real issue. However you leave out that who ever gets shipped out would most likely have a dman coming back.

    Wouldn’t that be a double upgrade, if you are getting a better offensive player with the signing and a defensive player in the trade?

  • Jun 20, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    Swing loooooow, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home.

    The year of our discontent is upon us. We are a salary-cap-strapped, non-playoff team for the foreseeable future.

  • Jun 21, 2016 at 4:46 am

    Its not Stamkos v Stepan. Its Stamkos + what u would recieved in a trade for Stepan v Stepan. Im quite confident the latter would fetch us something promising. That’s what you should compare, and it would probably easily favor a trade for Stepan and sign Stamkos.

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