According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Derek Stepan will likely miss the start of training camp tomorrow as he and the New York Rangers still remain far apart on contract negotiations. It is believed that Stepan is seeking a five or six-year deal with a cap hit of approximately $5 million, while the Rangers would prefer a two-year deal in the neighborhood of $2.75-$3 million.
Stepan lead all Rangers' players last season with 18 goals, and 26 assists for 44 total points in 48 regular season games. There's no doubt that he should be paid for what he has accomplished over the last three years, but Glen Sather almost always plays hardball with RFA's coming off of an entry-level deal. The only recent exceptions to that "rule" were both Marc Staal, and recently re-signed Ryan McDonagh.
As it stands right now, the Rangers have approximately $3 million to work with, assuming that both Darroll Powe and Arron Asham will be starting the year in Hartford. That number would increase even more in the event that Carl Hagelin or Ryan Callahan are placed the team's long-term injury reserve list. Both are expected to miss some time at the beginning of October as they are coming off shoulder surgery.
Brooks also mentions the possibility of a team sending in an offer sheet in the $5 million range, which is still very unlikely at this point.
"An offer sheet in the $5 million per range - carrying first- and third-round draft compensation - would force the Rangers to dispose of Brian Boyle ($1.7 million) or perhaps even Derick Brassard ($3.2 million) quickly."
If this does unexpectedly play out, I find it pretty hard to believe that the Rangers would even consider parting ways with Derick Brassard. Brian Boyle, on the other hand, would make a little more sense, as Oscar Lindberg is waiting in the wings to compete for a roster spot.
At the end of the day though, we know that there is a sizable gap that still remains between both sides, and this could easily drag into October (please don't). However, negotiations are a tricky situation, and all of this could take a complete 180 in a matter of days.
We'll just have to wait and see how it all plays out.