Derek Stepan, the Rangers 2nd round pick of last year’s draft (#51 overall), is an 18 year old center currently playing college hockey for Wisconsin. Before being drafted, he played for the very talented Shattuck-St. Mary’s high school hockey team. That school should sound very familiar, it’s produced players like Zach Parise, Ryan Malone, and the Cry Baby himself, Cindy Crosby. During his final season playing for St. Mary’s, he netted 44 goals and 67 assists for 111 points in 63 games. The year before, he scored 41 goals and 75 points in 63 games. He likes to play along the boards and work for loose pucks, showcasing his ability to make plays and score goals during his time at St. Mary’s.
Playing for Wisconsin in his freshman year, Stepan has put up 6 goals and 18 assists for 24 points in 30 games and is the second leading scorer on the team. It’s safe to assume that Stepan’s build (6’0 168 lbs) is working against him right now. He will need to fill out in college before coming over to the AHL. The Rangers are also lucky that they don’t need to rush any of their centers to the NHL, as there is quite the logjam at the position.
Perhaps Stepan’s best trait, aside from his ability to serve as a goal scorer and a playmaker, is his defensively sound play.
“Stepan has the ability to make plays and score goals. He understands how to do all the little things defensively that are such an important part of winning hockey games.” Ray Clearwater, Rangers’ amateur scout.
He also doesn’t take many penalties, with just 6 PIMs all year with Wisconsin. That’s 3 minor penalties in 30 games. Aaron Voros gets 3 minors in one period.
Currently, Stepan is ranked #10 on the Rangers prospect list on Hockey’s Future. He will surely move up on the list as he develops more and fills out. Hockey’s Future lists him as a potential #2 center as a ceiling, which I agree with if he fills out properly. Between him, Artem Anisimov and Evgeny Grachev, the Rangers have three solid center prospects.