USATSI_8590586_154158418_lowresThe New York Rangers and forward Derek Stepan have avoided arbitration and agreed to terms on a new contract. The deal reportedly signs Stepan for six years and carries a price tag of $39 million, translating to an average annual value of some $6.5 million.

Reports suggest that Stepan was seeking $7.25 million annually through arbitration, while the Rangers were angling for a one year contract worth $5.2 million. The 25-year-old centre is coming off the contract he signed in 2013 where he earned an average annual value of $3.075 million, so the new deal is quite a raise.

Still, it’s a fair value and it locks in the Rangers’ one-two punch at centre. Both Stepan and Derick Brassard are now inked for at least the next four seasons.

Stepan is coming off a 55 point campaign, where he tallied 16 goals (including two short-handed goals) and finished a plus-26. In the post-season, he had a dozen points over 19 games. He scored the winner in overtime of Game Seven in the Rangers’ series against the Washington Capitals, but things kind of tapered off when New York took on Tampa in the next round and he didn’t record a point in the last four games.

Stepan has spent five seasons in the NHL, all with the Rangers. He has 89 goals and 252 points in 362 games. He’s also a plus-85 with 18 game-winners. In 80 playoff games, he has 41 points.

“It’s a great feeling,” Stepan said. “I can’t be more excited to be a part of a team that I absolutely love. I love the city of New York, I’m grateful for the fans, grateful for the management there. Me and my wife are extremely happy to be there for the next six years.”

Stepan is one of the most versatile forwards on the Rangers and his creativity helps in all situations. He can slide in at all three forward positions, too, and creates offence. He also logs minutes on the penalty kill.

For the Rangers, signing Stepan was really the last item on their summer to-do list. They’ll be left with about $850,000 in cap space, which stands as a testament to new general manager Jeff Gorton’s ability to get things done in his first summer with the team.

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