Tag: Henrik Lundqvist


Rangers rewarded Stepan for playing ‘big in the big moments on the biggest stage’


The New York Rangers made Derek Stepan their third highest-paid player on Monday and, to hear GM Jeff Gorton explain it, a major reason why was Stepan’s ability to perform under pressure.

“[You] want players who can play big in the big moments on the biggest stage — and there is no bigger stage than New York City,” Gorton said, per Blueshirts United. “Derek has proven he can do that.”

It’s a telling statement for a team in the midst of a Stanley Cup window.

Having been to the Final in 2014 and Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final last season, the Rangers are clearly in win-now mode; Stepan has been a major part of that, and will continue to be moving forward.

The only difference now?

He’s got a contract to live up to.

The 25-year-old more than doubled his annual average value — from $3.075M to $6.5M — and, as mentioned above, trails only Rick Nash and Henrik Lundqvist in terms of New York’s highest cap hits. Gorton said Stepan was rewarded for “success he’s had, the leadership qualities he has,” adding the Rangers identified him as “one of the guys we want to build around.”

With this new contract, Stepan will receive an increase not just in dollars, but also responsibilities and pressure. He’s now getting paid like a true No. 1 center.

And to be fair, Stepan earned his pay bump. His 55 points in 68 games last season resulted in a 0.81 PPG average, on par with the likes of Jonathan Toews and Anze Kopitar. He also finished third on the team in scoring in each of the last two playoffs and, quite memorably, scored the OT winner in Game 7 of New York’s second-round victory over Washington in May:

The hope now, of course, is that the best of Stepan is yet to come. It’s easy to forget this is still a relatively young player; thanks to an early debut (at 20) and his durability (he’s played 362 of a possible 376 games), Stepan has a wealth of experience for someone that only turned 25 last month.

It’s something Gorton banked on by shelling out $39 million over the next six years.

“We’re really happy to get Derek locked up,” he explained. “It’s a really good thing for the Rangers and for Ranger fans.

“This is a 25-year-old player, who has played well for us already, and who now will play his prime years for us moving forward.”

Rangers sign Stepan — six years, $39 million


The New York Rangers have agreed to terms with forward Derek Stepan on a six-year, $39 million deal.

Today’s announcement came the morning the two sides were scheduled to go to arbitration.

Stepan had 16 goals and 39 assists in 68 games last season. The 25-year-old center now has the third-highest cap hit ($6.5 million) on the team, behind Henrik Lundqvist ($8.5 million) and Rick Nash ($7.8 million).

With Stepan signed long-term, the Rangers have two young centers, Stepan and 27-year-old Derick Brassard, under contract for at least the next four years.

Ah, arbitration: Holtby reportedly asking for $8 million, Caps countering at $5.1 million

Braden Holtby

Braden Holtby is proposing an $8 million salary.

The Washington Capitals are suggesting $5.1 million.

That’s according to CBC Sports reporter Tim Wharnsby, as the the two sides are scheduled to go to arbitration on Thursday.

Now, obviously, Holtby doesn’t really expect to get $8 million, just the same as the Caps don’t expect to get the 25-year-old goalie for a bargain $5.1 million. That’s just how arbitration works. Each side makes the strongest case it can.

The NHL’s highest cap hit for a goalie belongs to Henrik Lundqvist, at $8.5 million. And hey, the Holtby camp could argue* that Holtby actually has the same career save percentage as Lundqvist (.921).

Of course, the Caps could point to Cory Schneider having a .925 career save percentage, and his cap hit is only $6 million.

According to the Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt, in regular negotiations, the Caps were offering around $5.5 million while Holtby was asking for $6.5 million.

*As noted in the comments, only comparables that cover RFA years can be used in arbitration. But the point stands: Holtby has very good career numbers. If not Lundqvist, he could argue he deserves what Sergei Bobrovsky, 26, will make in Columbus next season.

Rangers sign goalie Hellberg to two-year extension

Nashville Predators v Los Angeles Kings

On Friday, the Rangers locked in some goaltending depth by signing Magnus Hellberg.

Hellberg, acquired from Nashville on the opening day of free agency, agreed to a two-year pact, according to his representation (A.M.A Sports Agency). No word yet on the financials.

The first goalie taken at the 2011 draft, one spot ahead of Anaheim’s John Gibson, Hellberg has only played in one NHL game — a 12-minute appearance in which he allowed one goal — and spent most of his time in North American shuttling between the ECHL and AHL.

Last year, Hellberg went 15-10-6 with AHL Milwaukee, posting a 2.33 GAA and .913 save percentage. He was dealt to the Rangers party because of the depth of Nashville’s goaltending group, which includes Marek Mazanec and Finnish national team member Juuse Saros.

With New York, Hellberg will enter the season battling for the No. 3 netminder position behind Henrik Lundqvist and Antti Raanta, acquired from Chicago at the draft. Mackenzie Skapski will also be in the running for that third-string spot, but not until he returns from hip surgery that’s expected to sideline him until November.

Sabres hire Allen to replace Irbe as goalie coach

Tim Murray, Dan Bylsma

The Buffalo Sabres rounded out Dan Bylsma’s coaching staff on Friday, hiring former Chicago Blackhawks goalie development boss Andrew Allen as their new goalie coach.

Allen, 38, replaces the outgoing Arturs Irbe.

A former AHL and ECHL netminder, Allen was with Chicago for the last four seasons, spending the majority of his time tutoring netminders with the club’s AHL affiliate in Rockford. During Allen’s tenure, a number of solid backups rose through the ranks: Carter Hutton (now Pekka Rinne’s No. 2 in Nashville), Antti Raanta (now Henrik Lundqvist’s backup in New York) and Scott Darling (now Corey Crawford’s backup in Chicago).

In Buffalo, Allen will work with newly-acquired starter Robin Lenher and No. 2 Chad Johnson, acquired at last season’s trade deadline.

With this hire, Bylsma’s staff is now complete — Allen will join assistant coaches Terry Murray, Dave Barr and Dan Lambert on the Sabres’ bench.