The news doesn’t appear to be good for Senators center Derek Stepan. While Ottawa is waiting for official word and has currently classified him as week-to-week, Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch reports that the expectation is that the veteran will be out for six months and will need surgery to repair a separated shoulder. That would put an end to his season and with it, the Senators' plans to trade him back to an American-based team.
The 30-year-old was brought in by Ottawa back in December from Arizona in exchange for a second-round pick. At that point, the bulk of his salary was already paid via signing bonus as he was owed just $2 million while still carrying a $6.5 million average annual value, giving the Sens a bit of flexibility to stay over the cap floor while keeping their costs down. They were also hoping that he’d be a capable veteran to help some of their blossoming young talent, although his on-ice performance didn’t quite live up to that goal.
Before the injury, which was sustained back on Tuesday against Montreal, Stepan had just a goal and five assists in 20 games. He’s also averaging a career-low in ice time at just over 15 minutes per game. While he was certainly hopeful that he’d be able to rebound from a tough season with the Coyotes in 2019-20 that saw him put up career lows in goals (10), assists (18) and points (28), clearly things were going in the opposite direction.
Between that and the injury, Stepan isn’t going to be hitting the UFA market in an ideal situation. Garrioch adds that Ottawa has no interest in retaining his services, which takes one option off the table. With 2020-21 going the way it did for Stepan, he may have to look for a one-year deal where he can try to build back some value and hope to hit what could be a slightly less financially restrictive free agent market in 2022.