In an article on the Arizona Coyotes need to acquire a #1 center this offseason, Craig Morgan at Arizona Sports suggests that GM John Chayka inquire to see if Derek Stepan may be available…
“…maybe the Rangers will look to move Derek Stepan or the Oilers will look to move Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. They aren’t franchise centers, but as Strome and Dvorak continue to develop, the Coyotes could assume a Columbus plan of attack at the center position with depth and skill to mask the lack of a true franchise player.”
Hey, maybe the Rangers could trade Stepan for that Duclair kid. I heard he’s got a ton of potential. Although, a blockbuster for Ekman-Larsson ($5.5M per) would be a nice way to upgrade the defense. No idea why Arizona would move Ekman-Larsson, but a Rangers fan can dream.
Despite a 23-game goalless streak last month, Stepan, who is being paid $6.5M per till 2021, will end the season with more than 50 points (16g, 38a) for the fourth straight season and for the fifth time in the last six years.
Stepan has a no-trade clause in his contract that begins on July 1st, so if Jeff Gorton is looking to open some cap space to sign Kevin Shattenkirk this offseason he’s going to have to move the Rangers #1 center before the start of free agency.
The Rangers are going to have around $10M to play with this offseason, with Mika Zibanejad (RFA), Oscar Lindberg (RFA), Jesper Fast (RFA) and Brendan Smith (UFA) to re-sign, so there might not be enough cap space left for Shattenkirk, which would make moving Stepan a possibility.
Could you imagine the Rangers trading Stepan for Ekman-Larsson, then signing Shattenkirk and re-signing Smith. Talk about revamping your blueline.
Obviously, this is just Morgan spit balling as there’s been no other chatter about the Rangers looking to move Stepan, but it is interesting to see his name being mentioned as someone who could potentially be available this offseason.
With the Rangers having a wealth of depth down the middle, losing Stepan wouldn’t be catastrophic, but he’s one of those players whose full value isn’t appreciated until they’re gone.