New York Rangers general manager Glen Sather appears to be growing impatient with center Derek Stepan.
The restricted free agent has yet to sign a contract with the club and has held out of training camp. Stepan, 23, led the Rangers with 44 points (18 goals, 26 assists) in 48 games last season.
"I don't think Derek is going to let this thing linger that long," Sather said in an interview on MSG Network during the Rangers' preseason game against the Calgary Flames on Monday night. "I don't think he is a big enough fool to think that he will sit out the year and it will do any good. He is in a gap contract and every one of our players has signed a gap contract.
"You look at the football players who are making minimum wage, they get paid after they go through that time. I find it frustrating that some teams are in a hurry to sign these guys to big contracts. I think it's because the owners or managers panic and it's unfortunate that he has listened to his agent and decided [to do] that."
The New York Post is reporting Stepan is seeking a two-year contract worth $7 million, while the Rangers are offering just under $6 million over two years. The Post also reported the Rangers may be willing to increase the offer to $6.4 million. Stepan has appeared in 212 consecutive games for New York and has led Rangers forwards in ice time over the past three seasons.
"He is going to get paid, but it isn't today," Sather said. "I hope he gets wiser because every day he misses is a big deal. We have offered him a very good deal. When he turned down our qualifying offer, we have stuck with that. He has to start smelling the roses and figure out what is going on. I hope he does."