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Rangers coach not concerned by Stepan's absence

by Dan Rosen

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- As expected, Derek Stepan did not report to training camp with the New York Rangers on Wednesday as he remains a restricted free agent going through contract negotiations with the club.

Stepan is coming off his entry-level contract after leading the Rangers last season with 26 assists and 44 points in 48 games.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said Wednesday that he spoke to Stepan multiple times during the summer and he's not yet worried about him missing time in training camp because the players have not gone on the ice yet. Wednesday was reserved for off-ice medical testing; the first on-ice practice is scheduled for Thursday.

Vigneault also said Stepan's absence gives an opportunity to another player to showcase what he can do. He views it similar to the situation facing team captain Ryan Callahan and forward Carl Hagelin, who are recovering from offseason shoulder surgeries and could miss the start of the regular season.

"It would be better if he [Stepan] would be here, there's no doubt in that," Vigneault said. "We've got a whole new staff, there's some new teammates. You want everybody to start together and work together so that we're all striving for the same goals. That being said, though, this is a situation that is not within my control. It's a little bit within his control, but it's not within mine.

"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 it'll be fine."


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