Derek Stepan Contract: Stop Panicking About Stepan

Bruce Bennett

The Rangers aren't panicking about Derek Stepan being re-signed, and neither should you.

Considering the New York Rangers weren't big players in NHL free agency and didn't even have a first or second round pick in the NHL Entry Draft there's been a lot of concern about the Rangers' summer.

The biggest issue has been re-signing the team's RFAs, two of which are critical parts of this Rangers machine. One of those pieces is already in place now that Ryan McDonagh has signed a long-term, six-year contract to stick around Broadway for a long time. Glen Sather has also worked out deals with Carl Hagelin and Justin Falk and Sather is apparently pretty close to locking up Mats Zuccarello as well.

Which leaves Derek Stepan. The problem right now is there hasn't been much (or anything) leaked about Stepan's negotiations for a new contract. This makes fans nervous. Not hearing anything is generally a pretty good sign (because neither camp has had to go to the media to voice their displeasure) but there's always that scary feeling that the wheels can fall off the negotiations at any moment - because when fans don't hear anything they don't know what's happening.

The other issue is fans don't know how the Rangers are negotiating with Stepan. McDonagh we knew was going to be getting a long term deal, but there's been some speculation about whether or not Stepan is going to get a longer contract or a bridge deal. My assumption is the Rangers are going to break their organizational policy of giving out bridge deals to players coming off ELCs again for Stepan (especially since they did it for McDonagh). But it's very possible Sather will try to give him a bridge deal, which might upset him.

Either way, let me make it clear that there's nothing to worry about. Stepan will be back on Broadway next year and for a very long time. The guy told the media he wanted to retire with the Rangers during this year's breakup day, and while that might mean nothing, the Rangers want him around for that long too. It changes things when both parties are dancing.

I have a friend who always says, "panicking is the worst thing you can do." Since the Rangers have apparently left Stepan for last (remember, he was the only RFA not eligible for arbitration) fans are naturally fearing the worst. That's not necessarily the case. The Rangers know they need to take care of Stepan. He knows this, too. Sather isn't snubbing him for the other players, he's also not using up "Stepan's money" to sign Zuccarello. The Rangers can go 10% over the salary cap this summer before the season begins and everything needs to be sorted out.

It will be taken care. So please stop panicking.

It's the worst thing you can do.

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