As reported yesterday, the 23-year-old has not been in camp, as the Rangers and his agent Matt Oates, continue to wrestle with a new contract.
The first scrimmage of camp is 11 a.m. today, and with two preseason games against the Devils Monday and Philadelphia Tuesday, the impasse is raising some concern. The Rangers leave Wednesday for four days of camp in Western Canada and then four games (in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Las Vegas.)
If there is an agreement on a two-year "bridge contract", upon which the Rangers, who currently have about $3 million in camp space, are insisting, Stepan would still need a medical and some conditioning tests.
Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault could not put a "definite time frame" on when Stepan, who lead the club in scoring last year, could play when he matter is resolved.
“Obviously any player … that doesn’t start at the same time as his fellow teammates, he’s got some catching up to do. Some players, like (Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K.) Subban last year, came in and (played right away). But a lot of times it goes the other way. A lot of times those guys are behind the eight-ball right off the bat, and they have a tough time getting their rhythm, getting on the same page as far as their teammates. It depends on the individual. It depends on the player. It depends how far behind they are.”