RFA Stepan, Rangers far apart in negotiations

New York Rangers RFA Derek Stepan, seen here piggybacking Alex Ovechkin, endures the weight of contract negotiations as training camp gets set to open.

If you’re an Eastern Conference club — with salary-cap space — looking to aggravate the New York Rangers, field an offer sheet to restricted free agent Derek Stepan.

Stepan and the Rangers remain far apart in their negotiations, the New York Post reported Tuesday.

According to Larry Brooks’ Post story, Stepan is believed to be after a five- or six-year deal worth approximately $5 million per season; the Rangers would prefer a two-year pact worth $2.75 to $3 million annually.

The 23-year-old Stepan was the highest-scoring American centreman last season, registering 18 goals and 26 assists for 44 points in 48 games as the Rangers’ first-line middle man. A plus-25 player who logged more than 20 minutes a game and committed only 12 minutes in penalties in 2012-13, the Minnesota native is due for a significant raise from his three-year, $2.65-million entry-level deal.

To sign Stepan, the Rangers have about $3 million of space to play with, Brooks explains, a figure that would increase if Carl Hagelin ($2.25 million) and/or Ryan Callahan ($4.275 million) go on the club’s long-term injured reserve list.

“An offer sheet in the $5 million per range — carrying first- and third-round draft compensation — would force the Rangers to dispose of Brian Boyle ($1.7 million) or perhaps even Derick Brassard ($3.2 million) quickly,” writes Brooks.

In other RFA news, Andy Strickland reported that the St. Louis Blues and top-two defenceman Alex Pietrangelo are speaking Tuesday in hopes of coming to a contract resolution prior to the opening of training camp.

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