New York Rangers General Manager Glen Sather apparently is running out of patience with restricted free agent center Derek Stepan.
Although negotiations between Stepan and the Rangers organization are reportedly only $500k apart, the two sides appear to be deeply entrenched in the process, neither willing to budge.
Stepan is seeking a two-year, $3.5 million per-season deal, while the Rangers are looking to extend an offer no higher than two years and $3 million per season.
During an on-screen interview with MSG Networks last night, Sather commented on the status of negotiations—and his discontent with Stepan holding out.
“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."
Sather continued, "I don't think he is a big enough fool to think that he will sit out the year and it will do any good. He is in a gap contract and every one of our players has signed a gap contract."
"You look at the football players who are making minimum wage, they get paid after they go through that time. I find it frustrating that some teams are in a hurry to sign these guys to big contracts. I think it's because the owners or managers panic and it's unfortunate that he has listened to his agent and decided [to do] that."
"He is going to get paid, but it isn't today," Sather said. "I hope he gets wiser because every day he misses is a big deal. We have offered him a very good deal. When he turned down our qualifying offer, we have stuck with that. He has to start smelling the roses and figure out what is going on. I hope he does."
Stepan had led the team in ice time the past three seasons. If negotiations continue to go south, there is no doubt this experience will be fresh in the mind of Stepan in two years when he is able to negotiate his next contract. Rangers fans have to hope that Stepan still wants to remain in New York, and is paid what he is due.