Sather says Rangers, Stepan ‘too far apart’ on money


Talks are ongoing between Rangers GM Glen Sather and unsigned RFA Derek Stepan, but the two sides still aren’t close to a deal.

On Thursday, the second straight day Stepan wasn’t at training camp, Sather told ESPN New York that Stepan was open to the idea of a two-year bridge deal, but that the two sides are “too far apart” on money.

It’s not surprising Stepan’s been offered the bridge deal — a short-term contract many young players sign once their entry-level deal expires.

New York stood firm on one during negotiations with Michael Del Zotto (which he ultimately signed) and the bridge contract has been popping up more and more lately, a byproduct of the reduced salary cap.

Toronto forward Nazem Kadri signed one — a two-year, $5.8 million deal — as did Phoenix’s Mikkel Boedker (two years, $5.1 million) and Washington’s Marcus Johansson (two years, $4 million).

Stepan, though, is in a bit of a different situation.

At 23, he’s already played three full seasons (or two-and-a-half, depending on how you classify the shortened season) and 37 playoff games.

He led the Rangers in scoring last year and projects to be the club’s No. 1 center this season, barring a miraculous bounce-back from Brad Richards.

As such, Stepan could be looking for a long-term deal like the ones signed by Cody Hodgson (six years, $25.5 million) or Adam Henrique (six years, $24 million) — or, fellow Rangers teammate Ryan McDonagh.

Good luck getting that out of Sather, though.

“I am not going to give a long-term contract at this stage and he is a good player, a smart player, a good team guy,” Sather said of Stepan earlier this summer. “There is certainly nothing wrong with him, but you need to wait a little while before you get the big bucks.”

Kassian suspended without pay, placed in Stage 2 of Substance Abuse Program

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Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.

The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.

According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”

Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:

The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.

Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.

In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two:

Add Lecavalier to list of expensive Flyers healthy scratches

Vincent Lecavalier

Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?

While lineups are obviously subject to change, notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.

Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.

That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench.

“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”

The quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.

Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.

It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.