Here's what we know about the negotiations going on between the New York Rangers and RFA Derek Stepan: Nothing. And that's just how the organization wants it. After signing Mats Zuccarello, Carl Hagelin and Justin Falk without even a peep of warning coming from the media that deals were imminent; it wouldn't shock anyone if the two sides were penning an agreement right now.
There has been speculation that Glen Sather is trying to give Stepan a bridge deal, as is organizational policy for players coming off of their entry level contracts; but after seeing Ryan McDonagh break the trend and get a six-year deal is Stepan going to be willing to do the same?
Anyway, that's not the point of this article. The point of this article is to look at the (admittedly very unlikely) possibility another team may float Stepan an offer sheet.
Before we go into the specifics, let's remind everyone about the compensation structure, thanks to our friends from Winging It In Motown:
$1,110,249 or below - No Compensation
Over $1,110,249 to $1,682,194 - 3rd round pick
Over $1,682,194 to $3,364,391 - 2nd round pick
Over $3,364,391 to $5,046,585 - 1st round pick, 3rd
Over $5,046,585 to $6,728,781 - 1st round pick, 2nd, 3rd
Over $6,728,781 To $8,410,976 - Two 1st Round Picks, 2nd, 3rd
Over $8,410,976 - Four 1st Round Picks
Here is why most teams don't tread into offer sheet land:
A) It really, really, really pisses off other general managers (even though it's a completely legal part of the CBA).
B) General managers who are the victims of an offer sheet usually have opportunities for revenge. (I mean, think about it, every single team at some point and time will have a critical young player hit the RFA market and be able to be targeted by an offer sheet).
C) Last but not least, in order for an offer to make sense the terms have to actually screw over another team. So, think about the Philadelphia Flyers frontloading $27-million in bonuses that had to be paid out to Shea Weber within the first year. They did it because they didn't think the Nashville Predators had enough cash to cover the deal. Yeah, good luck fixing that relationship, Philly.
Reason "C" more than anything else is a reason the Rangers usually don't get offer sheets. No team can give a player more money than James Dolan can pay. $27-million? He has that between his couch cushions. Try again.
The bigger issue for other teams, however, is that the Rangers are cap strapped right now. Let's use an example (PURE SPECULATION): What if the New York Islanders (plenty of space) floated Stepan a five-year $27-million contract. That gives Stepan a $5.4-million cap hit, which the Rangers cannot afford without having to make some moves to shed salary. What if the Islanders offer him five-years $30-million? Stepan is probably worth a 1st, 2nd and 3rd round pick for a team like the Islanders. He would fit in really well with the team, and they would screw over the Rangers.
Even if Sather matches that deal, getting $6-million under the cap is going to be really, really hard without losing a player you probably want to see on the team next year. Now, if this were to happen Sather can extract revenge. Next year the cap is going to raise and after buying out Brad Richards (if they do) the Rangers will have a significant amount of cap space to target a RFA.
That more than anything is why you probably won't see a team float one to Stepan. And even though it's highly unlikely, you never know.
And for a player like Stepan that's still scary.