Stepan was reportedly seeking a two-year, $7 million deal, but tough negotiations between his agent and Rangers General Manager Glen Sather on financial terms drove any possibility of a larger pay raise close to nil. Sather had criticized Stepan just days ago, cautioning that he needs to be "wiser" regarding the negotiating process, and that he would "not be big enough of a fool to sit out the season."
With an average annual value of $3.075 million, the Rangers are now $294,167 over the salary cap, according to CapGeek.com. Roster moves will be necessary for the Rangers in order to remain cap compliant before the start of the regular season next week.
It is not known when Stepan will formally rejoin the team. Only two preseason games remain—tonight against the Vancouver Canucks and tomorrow versus the Los Angeles Kings in Las Vegas. There should be no doubt that he will be in the lineup for the regular season opener against the Phoenix Coyotes on Oct. 3rd, however.
Stepan led the Rangers in scoring with 44 points in 48 games last season. The near point-per-game young star comprises the core of the future of the Rangers team, and will likely be inserted in the top line alongside Rick Nash and possibly Chris Kreider.
Over 212 regular season games, Stepan has scored 56 goals and totaled 140 points. He has never missed a regular or postseason game since joining the Rangers.