Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News reported the deal is for six years and $39 million, translating to a $6.5 million cap hit per season. Stepan, 25, was expected to ask for $7.25 million in arbitration proceedings, with the Rangers offering $5.2 million, per Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post.
Stepan spoke of his excitement about staying with the Rangers following the announcement, courtesy of the team:
Both sides were pretty close to begin with. I think both sides are very happy and very comfortable with the deal.
There's nothing but exciting things to come for us moving forward...it's a special feeling to be a part of it. We have an exciting group of guys and a group of guys ready to take the next step.
The whole time, we (both sides) were trying to get a long-term deal done. I can't be more excited to be a part of a team that I absolutely love!
"You're talking about, for me, a life-changing contract ... It went all the way to the door ... There wasn't any bad blood," Stepan said, per Seth Rothman of InsideHockey.com.
The long-term deal essentially splits the difference between the values, likely giving Stepan a slight bump overall for committing for the remainder of his prime. John Shannon of Sportsnet pointed out that it's "probably fair for both sides." Stepan indicated during the press conference "there is a no-trade early in contract, then a no-movement through six years," according to Andrew Gross of the Record.
Stepan had 16 goals and 39 assists last season, his third time topping the 50-point mark since joining the Rangers in 2010-11. The team's Twitter feed noted he also had something in common with one Wayne Gretzky:
New York Rangers @NYRangers
Stepan became the 1st #NYR center to record 50 or more points in 3 consecutive seasons (82 games) since Wayne Gretzky http://t.co/qp9I6oSYMa2015-7-27 13:52:37
A second-round pick in 2008, Stepan is one of the best young centers in the game and has emerged as a franchise cornerstone for the Rangers. He helped pushed the team to an NHL-high 113 points during the regular season. The team came within one game of making two straight NHL Final appearances for the first time in franchise history, eventually losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
As noted by Cyrgalis, getting Stepan at a $6.5 million figure helps give the Rangers the tiniest bit of cap flexibility. They had $7.35 million remaining before coming to terms, leaving them roughly $850,000 in the bank in case of emergency.
With the biggest task of their offseason done, it wouldn't be a surprise to see New York attempt to add a little more financial flexibility via trade.
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