Derek Stepan and the New York Rangers might not be far apart on a new deal money-wise, but the negotiations between the restricted free agent’s reps and GM Glen Sather seem pretty tense.
At least, that’s certainly the vibe Sather gave off during an MSG interview, which ESPN’s Katie Strang transcribed:
“I hope he starts to get a little wiser about this decision,” Sather said Monday. “It’s unfortunate that Derek has decided to listen to his agent. I don’t think Derek’s going to let this linger too long. I don’t think he’s big enough of a fool …”
That’s quite the frank way to discuss a 23-year-old forward who just had a breakthrough 2013 season (44 points in 48 regular season games).
Reports indicate Stepan is unlikely to begin the regular season with a contract, even though the difference seems relatively slim at $600K per year.
Looking at some of the bloated contracts in the Rangers salary structure, one might believe that Stepan has every right to ask for big money. Sather has developed a knack for driving hard bargains with quality RFAs, however; his staff managed to sign the likes of Carl Hagelin, Marc Staal and Ryan Callahan to relative bargains with regularity.
These situations usually blow over once the ink dries on fresh deals, although Sather would be wise to avoid an estranged scenario like the Colorado Avalanche experienced with Ryan O’Reilly last year.