NHL insider Bob McKenzie made waves on social media this afternoon when he announced that New York Rangers forward Derek Stepan has been featured prominently amongst NHL general managers in trade talks.
The 26 year-old Stepan just completed the second year of a six year, $39 million agreement signed in the summer of 2015. In 81 games with the Rangers this season Stepan produced 17 goals and 55 points, just two off his career high of 57. While there’s little doubt that Stepan is a valuable player to the team, his $6.5 million annual cap hit makes him the team’s second highest paid player. And with general manager Jeff Gorton needing to free up salary to re-sign Mika Zibanejad and take a run at UFA Kevin Shattenkirk, Stepan could wind up being the sacrificial lamb in NYC.
McKenzie failed to name any destinations for Stepan, but rumors on social media have connected the dots between the Rangers and the Montreal Canadiens on a potential Stepan for Alex Galchenyuk swap.