New York Rangers, Mats Zuccarello
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Jeff Gorton and the New York Rangers avoid arbitration by locking up Derek Stepan to a fair market value long term contract.

By Steven Cifuentes

The New York Rangers announced that they avoided arbitration today by signing Derek Stepan to a six-year, $39 million extension.

Jeff Gorton is proving he is up to the task to run this team and navigate through a tough salary-cap world.

He started by signing all of his necessary restricted free agents to cap friendly deals, which lead to the long term signing of the Rangers No. 1 center for six years.

While a lot a critics will signing a 50-60 point center to $6.5 million annually, I believe the Rangers would be crazy not to take this deal.

Derek Stepan is a cornerstone to this team and a leader that has a proven playoff resume. This move is just another example of how the Rangers organizational philosophy has changed to reward youth instead of veteran free agents from around the league.

The Rangers used to give these six-year deals to the Wade Redden’s of the world, but now when they sign older players they tend to sign short term deals that won’t cripple the cap long term (see Dan Boyle).

How many fans thought Glen Sather was crazy for committing $5 million per year to Derick Brassard long term? One season in and after a 60 point season, I think we all know how that deal is looking right now.

Stepan should become an instant fan favorite for accepting this deal. He could have easily taken this amount of money for 1-2 years and then tried to cash in after continuing his current pace. If he ended up exceeding his current stats, who knows how much he would have demanded.

This is the exact sign of a player that wanted to stay in New York and somebody who understood his team’s current salary cap situation. Not only will Rangers fans love this deal next year, we will still love it in year six.

For any New York Rangers fans that are ripping this deal, ask yourself this, would you rather pay a 25-year old center that can grow and exceed a long term deal’s value, or pay a 30-year old center that you know is on the downside of his career.

If you answered the latter, please review the pre-salary cap hell us Rangers fans lived through and I think you will see the light.

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Founder of New York Hockey Message board on Facebook. If you want to know one man's opinion of Rangers hockey, great and awful, he is the man to seek out. Steve is a self proclaimed obsessed Rangers Fan. Steven's perfect romantic evening is a Beer, Wings and a Ranger game on TV with his girlfriend. Girlfriend is optional of course.