Derek Stepan has inked a six-year $39 million contract with the New York Rangers. The two sides avoided arbitration with almost no time to spare. Stepan had been seeking a $7.25 million contract from the arbitrator while the Rangers countered at $5.2 million, so this agreement is a logical middle-ground based on those figures.
Stepan still hasn’t recorded more than 57 points in a single season, so to the majority of hockey fans this looks like an overpayment. If you ask me, however, I think this is a fair deal going into the future considering some of the other contracts that were signed this offseason. Derek Stepan is just entering his prime at 25 years old. There is a lot of upside to his game, and I am someone who believes he can be a point-per-game number #1 center in the NHL.
PPG from ages 21-24:
Patrice Bergeron: .75
Derek Stepan: .74
David Kreijci: .74
Ryan O’Reilly: .73
Jordan Staal: .68
Joe Pavelski: .61
I have a feeling that Ryan O’Reilly’s ridiculous contract from earlier in the summer sets the bar for players like Stepan to ask for more in arbitration. That’s why we are where we are.
“It went all the way to the door [for a hearing], but I think [Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton] did a great job,” Stepan said. “There wasn’t any bad blood through the whole thing. It always seemed that we were close and it was just a matter of just getting over one hump here, one hump there. It went the way I expected it to. It went the way I wanted it to. Hats off to him and to my agent for doing it the way they did.”
With one of the key members of the Rangers’ core now secured, New York once again must be considered among the Stanley Cup favorites heading into the 2015-2016 season.
“It’s a great feeling,” Stepan said. “I can’t be more excited to be a part of a team that I absolutely love. I love the city of New York, I’m grateful for the fans, grateful for the management there. Me and my wife are extremely happy to be there for the next six years.”