With the New York Rangers protected players list out and the NHL Expansion Draft days away, we ponder the future of center Derek Stepan.
The real question now is, “For how long?”
Stepan, who struggled to find the net and to win face-offs last season, has been a player the team looks up to for production over the past few seasons. The Rangers are in a race to figure out what they want to do with Stepan and they have to figure it out fast. His no trade clause goes into effect on Jul. 1.
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Beginning with the 2017-18 contract, Stepan has a NTC in effect for the next two seasons. Then, during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 season’s, he’ll be equipped with a modified NTC in which he has to list 15 teams he would not want to be traded to.
He is scheduled to make $6.5 million for the remaining four years of his contract. Stepan turned 27-years-old this month was a second round draft pick in 2008 — so his age isn’t a worry.
Stepan was protected by the Rangers for the Las Vegas expansion draft, but come this Thursday, the team will be able to trade him if they choose.
So the question general manager Jeff Gorton has to address is whether can pull the trigger on a worthy deal now or not. Stepan played 81 games last season and had 17 goals, 38 assists for 55 points including a +19. He did struggle on face-offs with a 45 FO%. Overall, he’s a solid, reliable player he does have value on the team.
The Rangers will only have 10 days to decide what direction they want to go once the freeze comes this Thursday. Realistically, it’s not a lot of time to make a trade when the entire NHL knows the situation the Rangers are in.
Will Stepan still continue to be an asset as he begins the back end of this expensive contract or will the team trade him at any cost? Have to think they maybe resigned to hold on to him since they did put him on the protected list. Time to see what the Rangers have in mind for #21
The general consensus right now is that the club is deciding to hold on to him since they did put him on the protected list. But only a few days remain until we know for sure.