‘Rangers Inside And Out’
By Sean Hartnett
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The Rangers have top center Derek Stepan over a barrel in contract negotiations. There isn’t an offer sheet coming from a rival NHL club. In all likelihood, Stepan will agree to a two-year “bridge deal” before training camp begins.
Assistant GM Jeff Gorton was on hand at the NHL Stadium Series event held at Yankee Stadium on Thursday as Glen Sather could not attend. Gorton did not offer significant updates on the progress of talks, though he expects Stepan to come to an agreement with the team before training camp gets under way on September 11.
“We fully expect we’re going to get something done by the time we’re in camp,” Gorton said. “We plan on talking to him soon — in the next few days.”
Gorton hinted that a two-year bridge contract is a likely solution.
“Derek’s at a spot in his career where he’s coming out of his entry-level contract,” Gorton said. “We just have to find something. We’ve done it in the past with some of these guys and we’re just trying to do the same things. Obviously, he’s a big part of our team and we want to get him signed as soon as possible.”
Gorton also addressed the future of Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers have been speaking with Lundqvist’s camp on and off throughout the summer.
“There’s no real update,” Gorton said. “We’ve had a couple of conversations with (Lundqvist’s people). We hope to get something done with him. Obviously, he’s a huge part of our team. We’ll keep working hard on that one too.”
The team’s assistant GM did offer assuring words to Rangers fans regarding the future of their elite netminder.
“Henrik wants to be here, and we want Henrik,” Gorton said. “At the end of the day, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get a deal. I think we’ll get one done.”
Lundqvist has enjoyed a laid-back summer. He attended Milan Fashion Week in late June, saw Robbie Williams perform live in concert in July and has spent most of his time relaxing in his native Sweden. Eventually, the wheels will starting turning on the progress of his new extension once he returns to New York.
Gorton understands Lundqvist’s situation and is eager to resume talks.
“To be honest, we’ve had other things going on,” Gorton said. “Henrik’s been in Sweden. So, we’re doing our best to set something up, talk again and get it going again. It would be preferable to have it done right now to tell you we have a deal. Right now, we don’t and we’ll continue to work towards it.”
Rangers fans don’t have anything to worry about when it comes to two of their key pieces in Lundqvist and Stepan. It’s only a matter of time before their new deals get done.
Follow Sean on Twitter @HartnettHockey.
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