Derek Stepan is one of the younger and more promising players on the New York Rangers roster and on Monday, it went from likely to a done deal that he will remain with the team for years to come. Mere hours before an arbitration hearing was set to begin, general manager Jeff Gorton announced that a six-year agreement has been reached with last season’s first-line center worth $6.5 million annual at an early morning conference call with reporters. Stepan is a talented player, scoring 55 points for the Rangers last season with 16 of those points being goals. Stepan is young, at the age of 25, and has scored 50+ points in the last three seasons consecutively. The Rangers don’t have much talent at the center of the ice, so being able to keep and pay Stepan was very important to them, and overall the deal is solid. He will be a mainstay in the lineup for years to come. One of the few things that makes me wary about paying him $6.5M a year is that he has yet to crack the 60 point barrier, but as seen in recent years there is a growing trend in which paying players who are a bit above average but key to a team’s core has become a norm in the NHL. Superstars are no longer the ones who can command six or seven million dollars a season. Overall, this was a good move for the Rangers.

Grade: B+

The New Jersey Devils have also kept a good core player of their own in resigning defenseman Adam Larsson. Larsson seemed to be a bit of a bust during the first few years of his NHL career but he was also young, coming into the league at 19 years old. Larsson had a hard time becoming a main stay in the Devil lineup due to their large veteran presence and the bad decisions by former coach Pete DeBoer. Last year after DeBoer was let go, Larsson was stuck into the line-up and produced well, tallying 22 points in about 50+ games last season. This past season was the first time Larsson showed any real ability and skill that should come with a top five pick, and he looks very promising for the future. Still, he’s young at the age of 22 but the Devils are only paying him $25M over six seasons. Larsson looks like a blue-chip player for the future of the Devils defense, but only time will tell.

Grade: B

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