New York Rangers Blueshirt Beat, 6/18/17: Derek Stepan Remains in Blue, For Now
Mar 28, 2017; San Jose, CA, USA; New York Rangers center Derek Stepan (21) faces off against the San Jose Sharks in the second period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Anticipated to be as exciting as the NHL trade deadline, the expansion draft freeze has passed with Derek Stepan still a New York Rangers center.

As the standard when it comes to trade rumors and the New York Rangers, there were large amounts of smoke but no fire. Friday night and Saturday were filled with an infinite number of Twitter refreshes and cap friendly visits. Yet, the New York Rangers were unsuccessful in making any moves.

At least for now.

Rumors were strongest for the 26-year-old center, Derek Stepan. The career-long Blueshirt has four years remaining on his contract with a salary cap hit of $6.5 million per year. More importantly for the New York Rangers, Stepan’s fate is still in the hands of general manager Jeff Gorton. On Jul. 1, 2017 Stepan will possess a no trade clause enable him to control his own destiny.

While Stepan did have down season and an even worse playoffs, the attempt to trade the versatile center lies purely as a business move. The term and money awarded to Stepan has the potential to be a salary cap anchor for the next four seasons. Upper management needs to avoid these salary cap anchor situations similar to Dan Girardi and Marc Staal. A trade is the best approach.

Who is interested?

The most interest in Stepan was with the Arizona Coyotes. The Rangers are seeking a top pair defenseman which really only leaves Oliver Ekman-Larsson as the potential target. Some have speculated that other pieces such as Max Domi, Christian Dvorak, or Clayton Keller could also be in play.

The Montreal Canadiens and quick to pull the trigger GM Marc Bergevin have also been interested in Stepan. Montreal has been teasing teams with putting Alex Galchenyuk on the block, which could be enticing the New York Rangers.

Rumors are just that. Rumors. Nothing can be concluded from Twitter until a trade call to the NHL in confirmed. However, if you want the best information Bob McKenzie is a king in the industry. He may be inferring the Rangers aren’t quite done with Stepan.

Next to Come?

The NHL expansion draft trade freeze started yesterday at 3 P.M. All protection lists from the 30 NHL franchises were due at 5 P.M yesterday. While the freeze is in effect, teams are still allowed to make trades but only with the Las Vegas Golden Knights. In addition, the protected players lists from all NHL organizations were be given to the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the public today at 10 a.m. ET.

The Expansion Draft will take place on Wednesday, June 21.  Normal trade talks can resume on Thursday, June 22 at 8 AM. The New York Rangers, if they want to move Stepan, will have from then until July 1 to make the move.

This is an exciting time in the NHL. Many moving pieces, an expansion draft, a regular draft, many trades to come, and a brand new franchise in the NHL. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

Other Rangers News, Stories:

  • Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post discusses which three New York Rangers forwards could be plucked by the Las Vegas Golden Knights.
  • ESNY’s Neal Purcell writes an open letter to number 5, the warrior, Dan Girardi.
  • Sean Hartnett discusses why the New York Rangers should be interested in Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk.
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