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The Rangers began their obligatory, two-year resigning-every-player-on-the-team process this offseason.
Ryan McDonagh, Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello and the newly acquired Justin Falk all became restricted free agents once the 2013 season ended.
McDonagh, Hagelin, Zuccarello and Stepan make up a vital part of the team, and all had to be resigned.
McDonagh was the first to get a deal done, and did he ever get paid. At $4.7 million for six years, McDonagh is now the highest paid defenseman on the Rangers, and he deserves it. He may be the team’s best on the backend.
Hagelin was up next, and he signed himself a bridge deal, which was best for all parties concerned, especially the Rangers. At $2.25 million for two years, Hagelin makes a modest wage while trying to earn himself top dollar in his following contract.
Zuccarello and the Rangers initially didn’t see eye to eye—the 26-year-old Norwegian even filed for salary arbitration—but in the end the two sides reached a deal before Zuc’s arbitration hearing.
Then, there was the Stepan saga.
The Rangers wanted to sign the team’s leading scorer last season to a bridge deal, mostly because they didn’t have the cap space, but also because Sather believes his young players need to prove they’re worth the big bucks. Stepan was looking for a long-term deal, but understood the Rangers' inability to offer him one.
He was comfortable with signing a bridge deal but was looking for somewhere between $3.5-4 million a year, a number the Rangers couldn't satisfy.
As a result, Stepan declared he wouldn't report to camp without a deal, and up until Wednesday, he was still a holdout.
But Thursday brought news that the two were close to a deal. The initial report, by Larry Brooks of the New York Post, came just a few short days after Sather called out Stepan and his agent.
Nevertheless, a two-year, $3.075 million deal was agreed upon.
Although all parties hoped the deal would get done earlier, it’s good to see the Rangers have arguably their best forward back in the lineup.