NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The Rangers have locked up a key piece of their present and future.
The Blueshirts announced Thursday they have agreed to a new two-year contract with center Derek Stepan. The deal is worth $6.15 million, with Stepan receiving $2.3 million this season and $3.85 million in 2014-15.
The move has to leave new head coach Alain Vigneault breathing a little easier. Stepan, who is entering his fourth NHL season, is coming off a fantastic lockout-shortened 2012-13 season in which he posted 18 goals and a team-high 44 points in 48 games. His previous career high for points was 51 over 82 games the previous season.
Stepan, 23, scored four goals and added an assist in 12 playoff games for the Rangers last season.
Signing Stepan was a critical move for the Rangers, who are starting the season under Vigneault without captain Ryan Callahan and speedy winger Carl Hagelin — both recovering from shoulder operations.
Stepan also set career highs last season with a plus-25 rating and six game-winning goals. He tied his high with four power-play goals.
Stepan went over the 40-point mark for the third straight season, tying for the NHL lead with four short-handed points. In 212 regular-season NHL games overall, Stepan has 56 goals and 140 points.
Stepan had been working out with the University of Wisconsin's team and is expected to meet up with the Rangers in New York sometime following Friday night's preseason game against the Los Angeles Kings in Las Vegas, the NY Post reported.
The Rangers open the regular season on Oct. 3 in Phoenix.
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