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Derek Stepan Remains Unsigned as Training Camp Nears

Alex Silverberg
8/6/13

Center Derek Stepan remains a restricted free agent for the New York Rangers with a little more than a month to go before training camp opens on September 16.

Stepan, arguably the Rangers’ No. 1 center, is a premier young talent that must be signed. If left in RFA status until training camp, the organization runs the risk of him being enticed by a large offer sheet from a competing team.

Following the Rangers’ signing of forward Mats Zuccarello to a $1.15 million dollar pact, the Blueshirts have approximately $2.18 million of cap space left for the upcoming year. Should the Rangers choose to send role players Arron Asham and Darrel Powe down to their AHL affiliate, the team will then have $4.03 million of available cap space.

Stepan, following a 44-point campaign, could easily command at least $3 million on the open market, but the Rangers will likely sign him to a bridge contract as they previously have with Ryan Callahan and Michael Del Zotto. This type of deal would allow Stepan to remain with the club for two years with a low cap hit. It would also give both sides time to negotiate an appropriate long-term contract.

Stepan, along with Carl Hagelin, Chris Kreider, John Moore and J.T. Miller, represent the future of the New York Rangers. The organization should do all they can to make sure that this core remains intact for years to come.

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