The press conference to officially announce the Stadium Series was held on Thursday. As you already know, the New York Rangers will be playing both the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils at Yankee Stadium. The Rangers are away for both games.
Anyway, after the conference reporters caught up with assistant general manager Jeff Gorton and got some updates on how things are going. Any quotes used below are from Andrew Gross. Here's Steve Zipay's take. And Pat Leonard's.
- Gorton specifically mentioned the ongoing Derek Stepan negotiation, which is really the only outstanding piece of business the Rangers' brass needs to take care of.
Gorton said the Rangers would prefer not to exceed the salary cap during the summer - they can by up to 10 percent until the start of the season - and that does make it more difficult to conclude a bridge contract with Derek Stepan, who was not arbitration eligible and thus really has little leverage in these negotiations without receiving an offer sheet, which is all but assured of not happening.
"We expect some of these things to go longer than others," Gorton said. "We don't expect it to be done tomorrow. We fully expect to have something by the time we're in camp."
Well, this pretty much confirmes what we suspected, which is the Rangers offering Stepan a bridge deal despite breaking organizational policy for Ryan McDonagh earlier in the summer. That all but answers the question of why this negotiation has taken so long. I have no doubt things will get cleared up sooner rather than later, though. This is all part of the process.
- Gorton also mentioned the Henrik Lundqvist talks.
Gorton also said there was no real update on negotiations toward a contract extension for goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
"Henrik wants to be here and we want Henrik," Gorton said. "At the end of the day it shouldn't be too difficult to get a deal done."
Let me just say this: I would be shocked if the Rangers extended Lundqvist before they locked up Stepan. I've seen some suggestions that Lundqvist's negotiations are more important right now, and that's simply not the case. Stepan's negotiations are far more important right now because he's a RFA right now. So, expect the Rangers to lock up Stepan first. It should be noted Lundqvist's extension that he's currently finishing was signed in January.
- Just one other note, this one from Dan Girardi. Read this quote about the whole coaching swap:
"I think it was a little bit surprising," Girardi said of Tortorella being fired. "In New York, there's a lot of pressure on the coach to get the job done and I thought Torts did a great job with the guys in the room. We all loved him. That's part of the business. Sometimes a coaching change has to happen. I think it's a good time for us. We kind of just made a trade with Vancouver, which is pretty interesting. We're happy to have AV here and I talked to him just briefly a couple of weeks ago. He seems like a great guy and he wants to win. I think we're all excited to have a different feel behind the bench and get the excitement going."
To this point not a single Rangers has had a bad thing to say about Tortorella, which is to be expected. But the part of that quote that counts?
"I think we're all excited to have a different feel behind the bench and get the excitement going."