After yet another breakout season with the Blueshirts, New York Rangers forward Derek Stepan is among 23 restricted free agents who filed for salary arbitration, according to NHL.com. Despite reports that the New York Rangers have already made an offer to the 25-year-old alternate captain, they will continue to negotiate from July 20 to Aug. 4, 2015 in Toronto. In the event the club and Stepan should not be able to reach an agreement, a third party will step in and award him a salary.
Stepan, 25, has been a core component to the Blueshirts’ offense since he first signed with the New York Rangers in 2010. He last negotiated to terms in 2013, when he agreed to a $6.5 million two-year contract extension with the Blueshirts, according to CBSSports.com.
This season, Stepan netted 55 points—16 goals and 39 assists—in 68 games played. In the postseason, Stepan scored 5 goals and 7 assists, including the Game 7 OT winner over the Washington Capitals, which had New York newspapers comparing the Stepan’s moves to the legendary goal from Stefan Matteau in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils.
However, while many fans remain positive that the Blueshirts will look to retain one of their premier players, the New York Daily News reports that “comparable” contracts may affect Stepan’s contract—namely a recent $52.5 million seven-year contract extension for 24-year-old Buffalo Sabres’ center Ryan O’Reilly.
O’Reilly, who also accumulated 55 points in the 2014-15 season, is now the highest paid player on the Sabres’ roster, earning close to $7.5 million annually.
Although the cost comparison has many suspecting the possibility of a trade, we will just have to wait and see what new GM Jeff Gorton and the cap-strapped New York Rangers club decide to do.