Derek Stepan not close to new deal

Updated: September 12, 2013, 2:06 PM ET
By Katie Strang |

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Rangers center Derek Stepan, an unsigned restricted free agent, missed his second straight day of training camp Thursday, and a resolution to his contract situation does not appear imminent.

Rangers general manager Glen Sather said he has been in constant communication with Stepan's camp but that there is nothing to report.

Sather said Stepan has to understand the parameters and limitations that come with the salary cap in the new collective bargaining agreement.  As of now, Sather said Stepan seems open to the team's standard two-year "bridge deal" but that the sides remain "too far apart" on dollars to make a deal.

Is Sather confident the dispute will be resolved quickly?

"I hope so," he told "[He's] a good player, but you've got to be careful. You don't want to miss too much time here."

Thursday was the first day of on-ice sessions for the Rangers in training camp, providing new coach Alain Vigneault the first real glimpse of the team.

Asked about the impact of Stepan missing ice time on the Rangers' preparations, Vigneault said: "I work with the guys that are here. He's not here. That's it."

The Rangers' first preseason game is Monday against the New Jersey Devils

Good friend and teammate Ryan McDonagh said he has been speaking with Stepan (who led the Rangers in scoring with 44 points last season) and has told him to stay positive. McDonagh said he's confident the situation will be resolved and the team will embrace the 23-year-old center with "open arms."

Stepan's absence will create an opportunity for other players down the middle. Vigneault said that 21-year-old center Oscar Lindberg caught management's eye with a strong performance in the recent Traverse City prospects tournament.

Vigneault said every team "needs surprises" in training camp.

Katie Strang covers the NHL for She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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