Derek Stepan reaches agreement on 2-year deal to return to New York Rangers

Derek Stepan is back in the fold with the New York Rangers, agreeing to a two-year contract that should have him back on the ice in time for the season opener.

Negotiations had been tense in recent days as the sides worked on a deal to get the restricted free-agent forward signed and into training camp. A contract was finally worked out Thursday, one week before the Rangers start the regular season at Phoenix.

The 23-year-old Stepan, expected to be the Rangers' No. 1 center, led the team with 44 points last season and was second to Rick Nash with 18 goals while playing all 48 games of the lockout-shortened campaign.

He had been seeking $3.5 million per season, while the Rangers were offering around $3 million. The new deal is for a total of $6.15 million — $2.3 million this season and $3.85 million in 2014-15.