News out of New York today is that the NY Rangers and 23 year old center, Derek Stepan, are far apart on a deal. So I thought to myself, is it time for Bob Murray to raid the cupboard of wingers and draft picks and swing a deal for the talented center?
Now chances are this is just a fantasy, but all options need to be explored. While I am a fan of Peter Holland and I think last year in Norfolk will pay huge dividends for him, Derek Stepan is a proven commodity. He has played center on one of the biggest stages and is projecting to be the Rangers number one center this year. At 23, he still hasn’t entered into his prime and would definitely make trading picks and talent justified. In last year’s lockout shortened season, he had 18G and 26A in 48 games. While Stepan has the ability to center a first line, in Anaheim he wouldn’t need to. This will enable him to play and excel against second line players and give us the second line center we have been begging for.
So now that we can all agree the prospect of two US born players, Stepan and Etem, playing together would be awesome, the question becomes what will it take? The first issue is salary cap compliance. We are currently 1.4 million under the cap and once Sheldon Surray is placed on LTIR that will free up another 3.6 million. The cap numbers are so important because Stepan is an unrestricted free agent. News out of NY is that he doesn’t want a short term bridge contract but something similar to what Cody Hodgson just received (6 year 25.5 mill or 4.25/year). Obviously, if we need to pony up this much cash we need to include some contracts in this deal. What does it take to get this done? A first round pick is the starting point and I believe we would need to include at least two almost NHL ready prospects. Would a deal including Smith-Pelley and Holland be enough or would we have to part with Kyle Palmeiri or Rickard Rakell?
No matter what it takes I think it’s a deal that can only make the Ducks better. Giving us that elusive second line center to pair with our talented young wingers will give us enough depth, skill and scoring ability to make a legitimate run for the cup.