Derek Stepan

RFAs out of the way: Rangers sign Fast, Miller

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The New York Rangers crossed two more items off their to-do list on Wednesday, signing RFAs J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast.

The team only officially acknowledged that the two deals are done, but the New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports that Fast’s contract is for two years, $1.9 million (a cap hit of $950K per season) while Miller accepted a qualifying offer of about $874K.

It sounds like Miller might be eyeing the future in compromising his 2015-16 payday:

Of course, there’s still the elephant in the room in Derek Stepan’s negotiations, but the Rangers’ other worries are largely taken care of. Taking those two contracts into consideration, that leaves New York with about $6 million in cap space for Stepan; Brooks reported that $6.5 million would just be a starting point, so there could still be some work to do there.

The Rangers have developed a pattern of saving with RFAs, for the most part, and these two deals stick with that trend.

Fast, 23, generated modest point totals (14 in 58 regular season games, six points in 19 postseason contests), yet he showed flashes of brilliance here and there. Miller, 22, managed slightly better totals and could very well blossom in the near future.

It’s been a busy day with the signing of Dylan McIlrath also in mind, but the team’s executives can’t quite take a vacation just yet.

NHL releases arbitration dates

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Per the players’ union, a quick look at the players (and teams) that have elected arbitration, and what dates they’re scheduled for. Italicized names with asterisks means deals have already been reached, nullifying the need for a hearing.

PLAYER ELECTED FILINGS

Arizona Coyotes
Mikkel Boedker * (signed one-year, $3.75M deal)
Phil Samuelsson – July 21, 2015
Brendan Shinnimin- July 20, 2015

Buffalo Sabres
Phil Varone* (signed one-year, $600,000 deal)

Calgary Flames
Lance Bouma – July 22, 2015
Paul Byron – July 30, 2015
Josh Jooris – July 28, 2015

Colorado Avalanche
Andrew Agozzino – July 20, 2015
Mathew Clark – July 22, 2015

Detroit Red Wings
Gustav Nyquist * (signed four-year, $19M deal)

Minnesota Wild
Erik Haula – July 31, 2015

Nashville Predators
Craig Smith – July 20, 2015
Colin Wilson – July 28, 2015

New Jersey Devils
Eric Gélinas – July 21, 2015
Adam Larsson – July 29, 2015

New York Rangers
Derek Stepan – July 27, 2015

Ottawa Senators
Alex Chiasson – July 23, 2015
Mike Hoffman – July 30, 2015

Philadelphia Flyers
Michael Del Zotto – July 21, 2015

St. Louis Blues
Magnus Paajarvi *  (signed one-year, $700,000 deal)

Toronto Maple Leafs
Taylor Beck – July 24, 2015

Washington Capitals
Braden Holtby – July 23, 2015
Marcus Johansson – July 29, 2015

CLUB ELECTED FILINGS

Edmonton Oilers
Justin Schultz – July 24, 2015

Toronto Maple Leafs
Jonathan Bernier – July 31, 2015

Report: Rangers haven’t submitted opening proposal to Stepan yet

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It’s anyone’s guess if the New York Rangers will stop Derek Stepan from reaching salary arbitration, but as of this moment, it doesn’t sound like much is happening yet.

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports that “the parties haven’t quite even reached the preliminary stages of negotiating” as a potential arbitration hearing looms on July 27. Going further, the Rangers haven’t even offered an opening proposal for a long-term deal, according to Brooks.

Yikes, right?

OK, Rangers fans, compose yourselves.

Yes, it seems a little dicey that the two sides reportedly haven’t done much, if anything. Stepan, 25, has a strong argument for a hearty deal – Brooks believes that a contract carrying a $6.5 million cap hit would merely get the ball rolling – but the Rangers hold some leverage in his RFA status.

General Fanager places the Rangers’ cap space at about $10.2 million at the moment, yet the Rangers have other situations to address with RFAs, as J.T. Miller, Emerson Etem and Jesper Fast all need new contracts. There are also some situations to consider for 2016-17, as Kevin Hayes and Chris Kreider rank among the most noteworthy players currently on expiring deals.

Even with that tight squeeze, note that a lot can happen in two weeks, and deals often get hammered out within breathing distance of these hearings.

The outlook just doesn’t seem particularly rosy right now, at least if this report is accurate.

Related: Ryan O’Reilly’s big deal might not be helping matters.

Arbitration filed: Holtby, Nyquist & Stepan highlight list released by NHLPA

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A total of 23 players have filed for arbitration, according to a list unveiled by the National Hockey League Players’ Association.

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby along with Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist and Rangers’ Derek Stepan are part of the list released on Sunday.

The deadline for club-elected arbitration is Monday at 5 p.m. ET. Salary Arbitration hearings will be held from July 20 to August 4.

Here is the complete list of players who have filed:

Arizona Coyotes
Mikkel Boedker
Phil Samuelsson
Brendan Shinnimin

Buffalo Sabres
Phil Varone

Calgary Flames
Lance Bouma
Paul Byron
Josh Jooris

Colorado Avalanche
Andrew Agozzino
Mathew Clark

Detroit Red Wings
Gustav Nyquist

Minnesota Wild
Erik Haula

Nashville Predators
Taylor Beck
Craig Smith
Colin Wilson

New Jersey Devils
Eric Gélinas
Adam Larsson

New York Rangers
Derek Stepan

Ottawa Senators
Alex Chiasson
Mike Hoffman

Philadelphia Flyers
Michael Del Zotto

St. Louis Blues
Magnus Paajarvi

Washington Capitals
Braden Holtby
Marcus Johansson

Columnist: O’Reilly deal could be costly for Rangers with Stepan

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Derek Stepan might lack a little in the way of negotiating power as a restricted free agent, but the New York Post’s Larry Brooks believes that he recently received a big boost in leverage.

In Brooks’ mind, the big seven-year, $52 million deal ($7.5 million cap hit) Ryan O’Reilly signed with the Buffalo Sabres will leave the New York Rangers in a “cap vise” thanks to its comparables regarding Stepan:

A number than starts with a “7” for Stepan is all but untenable for the Rangers as they are constructed. An award that’s closer to starting with an “8” than a “7” would place the ’15-16 Blueshirts’ roster in a cap vise. Beyond that, an arbitration award almost certainly starts the clock ticking on Stepan’s Broadway expiration date two years hence.

As Brooks notes, it’s plausible that Stepan, 25, may indeed file for salary arbitration by today’s deadline.

Even if this doomsday scenario gets downgraded to things being really tight, Brooks has a point about possible domino effects for the Rangers. General Fanager pegs the Rangers’ cap space at about $10.2 million, so anything in the $7 million range would start to make things uncomfortable, especially since New York still has other RFAs to consider in J.T. Miller, Emerson Etem and Jesper Fast.

Could that force the team’s hand in trading someone like Keith Yandle? Might the Rangers need to make more like the Chicago Blackhawks and move Stepan’s rights instead?

Yes, this speculation could turn out to be excessive worrying, especially if Stepan decided to take a slight “hometown discount” to stay on a contending team/help keep his team in contention.

Even so, if Stepan’s reps use O’Reilly’s extension as a measuring stick, the Rangers might indeed be sweating it.