Updates on the Rangers efforts to re-sign Derek Stepan, potential free agent additions for the Coyotes, and the latest on Dan Cleary and Damien Brunner.
NEW YORK POST/NEWSDAY/NORTHJERSEY.COM: Rangers assistant GM Steve Gorten spoke yesterday on the club’s efforts to re-sign RFA Derek Stepan this summer without going over the $64.3 million salary cap. The Rangers currently have around $3 million in cap space, and Stepan (the club’s leading scorer last season) is due a substantial raise over the $875K he earned last season. Gorton remains confident they’ll get Stepan under contract by training camp, and also said there’s no timetable to re-sign superstar goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who is slated to become a UFA next summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: CapGeek lists the Rangers cap space at just over $2.1 million. Obviously the Blueshirts want to get Stepan under a short-term bridge contract, and for less than $3 million per season. They can go over the cap by ten percent during the summer but must be cap compliant by the start of the season. I don’t see how they can get Stepan signed without shedding a bit of salary in the process, unless they force him to accept under $2 million per season.
Stepan’s coming off his entry-level contract, so this could turn into a contract holdout if the Rangers aren’t willing to come up in salary. I don’t expect they’ll shop Stepan. As for Lundqvist, there’s plenty of time to get him re-signed, and you know they’ll open the vault to keep him.
ESPN.COM: Tim Kavanagh noted the Phoenix Coyotes, with their ownership issues now behind them, has $6.9 million in cap space if they wish to invest further in what’s left in the free agent market. Kavanagh points out the Coyotes still lack “a finisher”, and suggests Brad Boyes and Damien Brunner as options, though it remains to be seen if GM Dan Maloney will be given the green light for further free agent additions.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brunner was believed seeking $3.5 million per season but his asking price might drop the longer he remains on the market. Boyes, who made $1 million last season with the NY Islanders, could probably be had for between $1-$1.5 million. It’ll be interesting to see if the Coyotes take another dip into this summer’s shallow UFA pool.
DETROIT NEWS: Ted Kulfan reports Brunner and Daniel Cleary remain available. While the Red Wings have interest in bringing back Cleary, they need to clear salary first, and there appears little interest in Jordin Tootoo and Cory Emmerton. Kulfan doubts Cleary will wait much longer for the Wings to sort things out. As for Brunner, if he doesn’t lower his asking price, Kulfan suggests he could end up back in Switzerland.