By keeping Brad Richards in the fold, the New York Rangers basically decided to stay out of the free agent market this summer. They also made retaining some key players of their own that much tougher.
The most important name still unsigned is Derek Stepan, who is a restricted free agent without salary arbitration rights. The New York Post reports that the 23-year-old and his team haven’t made progress in their discussions lately. In fact, the haggling could even stretch out into September (possibly even training camp).
The Rangers also face the prospect of Mats Zuccarello going to arbitration. The Post reports that the 26-year-old forward wants between $1.5 and $2 million while the Rangers are offering “considerably less than that.” With just 67 NHL games under his belt, the 26-year-old winger could represent an interesting case if he gets to that process.
While IR slotting might buy GM Glen Sather a little more breathing room, Cap Geek estimates that the Rangers have about $3.3 million in cap space right now.
One could argue that Stepan deserves that much alone after scoring 44 points in 48 games in 2013 and becoming either the team’s No. 1 center or 1a/1b with Richards.
With new CBA rules prohibiting a team from walking away from any arbitration award under $3.5 million, Sather might need to make a trade or two before the offseason is over for all of this to work.
San Jose’s Sommer becomes winningest coach in AHL history
Roy Sommer etched his name into the record books on Wednesday night.
Sommer, who’s been the coach of San Jose’s minor-league affiliate for the last 18 seasons, recorded his 637th win at the American League level to surpass Hockey Hall of Famer Fred “Bun” Cook as the winningest coach in league history.
More, from the Sharks:
Sommer ranks 1st in the AHL in games coached (1,388) and now victories (637) with the 4-2 victory over the Ontario Reign (AHL affiliate of the LA Kings). In the AHL, he has coached 120 players who have gone on to play in the NHL, including 95 who have spent a portion of their careers with the San Jose Sharks.
In all, 20 players who have dressed for the San Jose Sharks this season played for Sommer in the AHL at one point in their career.
Sommer, 58, was a former Maple Leafs draftee that appeared in three career NHL contests, all with Edmonton during the 1980-81 campaign. He transitioned to coaching immediately upon the end of his playing career and, prior to taking San Jose’s minor-league gig, spent two years as an assistant with the Sharks from ’96-98.
With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.
Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.