New York Rangers Focus Now Turn To Derek Stepan, Henrik Lundqvist

Bruce Bennett

Now that Mats Zuccarello is locked up the Rangers have to focus on their only remaining free agent.

On Tuesday the New York Rangers and Mats Zuccarello avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal. It was another fantastic contract handed out by Glen Sather this summer, and has left the Rangers with just one more free agent to sign: Derek Stepan.

We've had somewhat of an idea recently that the Rangers wold be leaving Stepan for last. Not because he wasn't as important as the other four RFAs the Rangers had to take care of, but because he wasn't arbitration eligible and Sather probably wanted to avoid that process at all costs.

Sather has accomplished that goal. And while Stepan was probably second on the Rangers' "RFAs who might receive offer sheets" list (Ryan McDonagh was clearly the number one player on that list), an offer sheet is remarkably unlikely in this NHL landscape.

What I will say (and please note this is just me speculating) is the Rangers are trying to give Stepan a bridge deal. My guess is (if it's true) it probably won't go over well with Stepan since he's just as valuable to the Rangers' future success as McDonagh is (maybe even more so) and he won't be thrilled to swallow a bridge deal when McDonagh didn't have to.

What Stepan has to remember is that McDonagh's been better for longer, and while Stepan did break out last year it was one season. Again, that's just me spitballing, but keep an eye there.

And, finally, it appears the Rangers are interested in re-signing Henrik Lundqvist. I know that's not news, but what is kind of news is Sather's attempt to do so before the season starts.

Jim Cerny ‏@JimCerny 6h

Glen Sather would prefer that, yes RT @Wisco_Blueshirt: @JimCerny The plan is still to sign Hank before the season starts right? #NYR

OK, that's not really news, either. But just something to keep in mind.

Thoughts guys?

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