09:17 AM ET 09.22 | By any objective measure, the $7 million over two years Derek Stepan is attempting to get from the Rangers is below market value. The problem for Stepan is that as a Group II free agent without arbitration rights, he belongs to the only class of NHL players that essentially is excluded from the market and that operates without comparables against which to measure. Compounding the problem is that as a Ranger, Stepan belongs to one of the few teams in the NHL that uses the leverage it owns under the collective bargaining agreement when negotiating with these Group II's. So Stepan is in a corner. But the problem isn't his alone, not by a long shot. Because if it seems counter-intuitive for a 23-year-old to risk missing a chunk of the season and a shot at the Olympics over $600,000 for two years, it seems even more absurd for the Rangers to draw a line in the sand with one of their most important players over the same amount of money.