One of the best moments of Nazem Kadri’s free-agent contract squabble with the Toronto Maple Leafs was when he called out the team’s irresponsible cap management in a martyr-ish way:
“I know I’m being pretty reasonable taking cap into consideration when really that’s not my job."
Alas he had zero leverage and took the money ($2.9 million against the cap) the Leafs wanted him to take. But that moment of indignation probably resonated with many players stuck in bridge contract hell: ‘Hey why didn’t they think of me when they were handing out contract money to veterans like candy corn on Halloween?’

Such is life for Derek Stepan of the New York Rangers the 23-year-old center who has yet to miss a regular-season game in three years and whose offensive numbers are on a steady climb. The restricted free agent remains unsigned and remains steadfast in his desire to be compensated for his accomplishments and abilities despite what GM Glen Sather has done with the rest of his budget.

Stepan wants around $3.5 million per season over two years according to multiple sources. The Rangers want $3 million per season but could go up to $3.2 million.

Because he has no arbitration rights he’s in the same pickle that Kadri and P.K. Subban were in. Long gone is the notion he’d land an Adam Henrique-like long-term deal despite that being his preference. Stepan has accepted that he’s in Bridge Contract Hell but has the nerve to ask for what he deserves rather than what fits under the NHL’s cap.

This naturally doesn’t sit well with Sather who took to MSG Network on Monday and hoped his leading scorer from last season won’t be “a fool” in negotiations