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Derek Stepan, in contract dispute, misses first day of camp

Derek Stepan celebrates his third-period goal during Game

Derek Stepan celebrates his third-period goal during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Washington Capitals. (May 6, 2013) Credit: Jim McIsaac

Center Derek Stepan's contract stalemate continues.

A team spokesman today confirmed that the 23-year-old restricted free agent's status hadn't changed.

The Rangers are offering the team's leading scorer last season a two-year bridge deal. Stepan, who earned $875,000 last season, and his agent, are reportedly seeking around $3 million per season and if possible, a longer-term deal.

Asked if he was concerned about the uncertainty in the negotiations, Rangers new head coach Alain Vigneault said: "Not at all. They’re (players) not on the ice yet. He knows that contracts aren’t part of my responsibility and I’m going to take him with open arms when he gets here. I know he wants to be here and I know management wants him to be here also. Hopefully, something will get done and if it doesn't, it's like the two injured guys (Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin, rehabbing from shoulder surgery), an opportunity for others."

But Vigneault conceded:

"It would be better if he would be here, there’s no doubt on that; we’ve got a whole new staff, some new teammates, you want everybody to start together to build that foundation, so we’re all striving for the same goals. That being said, this is a situation that’s not within my control, it’s a little bit within his control; like I told him over the phone, I look forward to being his coach, I look forward to working with him, and when he gets here that’ll be fine."

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