Derek Stepan Continues to Gather Plaudits

May 6, 2011, by

While the young freshman is over in Europe racking up the assists and playing big minutes for Team USA, the rookie’s first year in Ranger blue continues to gather compliments. This week, Hockeysfuture wrote about their Calder nominations and spoke in some detail about their top 10. Derek Stepan came in 9th place in their top 10 while Mike Sauer got an honorable mention as well – nothing to sniff at. While 9th is not high enough to be a serious trophy candidate (in all fairness there was seriously stiff competition this year) it is high enough to be a legitimate compliment to the young American. HF said this about Stepan:

Finishing fifth among all rookies and fourth on his teams in scoring, perhaps the most remarkable fact is that Stepan played in all 82 games. The Rangers line-up was ripped apart by injuries through the year, forcing Stepan to continuously adapt to different line mates and responsibilities.

It is certainly an impressive feat for Stepan to have been such a constant in the Rangers line up this year and if anything this season has only added to fan’s excitement over the young Minnesotan’s future. Stepan is truly a key cog going forward for the Rangers. If he continues to develop as he has (and the Rangers do indeed grab a veteran elite center) then a Rangers’ issue – skill at center –becomes an absolute strength and that is not even factoring more development from the likes of the Anisimov’s, Boyle’s and some of the prospects. As important as a Brad Richards type of acquisition is, so much hinges on how Derek Stepan (and Anisimov to be fair…) develops. Fingers crossed.



  1. Mikeyyyy says:

    It’s a mistake to go after an elite center. This will hamper aa and ds in their development

    Take it on the chin for another season and reap the rewards of what we sow

    • Chris says:

      there is no way Brad Richards hampers their development. You learn from the best. It’s not like Richards’ possible arrival would make DS a 4th liner is it?

      The best teams in the league: Van – Sedin/Kesler, SJ – Thortnton/Marleau/Couture, Pitt – Crosby/Staal/Malkin, Boston, Philly, Tampa…. are all at least two deep at center.

      If Stepan tops out as a great 2nd line center I’d be delighted. He and Richards could be a great 1-2 combination in every facet; skill, veteran and youthful presence, play making ability, possessing defensive consciences etc, etc….

      • Section 121 says:

        Richards is a -72 on his career, doesn’t seem too defensively conscious

        • Dave says:

          +/- is about as terrible of a metric in measuring defensive talent as wins is for pitcher’s success in baseball.

        • Section 121 says:

          I’m not big on baseball but really? Wins are not a measure of a pitcher’s success?
          So a pitcher with 20+ wins compared to one with 5 wins and they’re the same talent level or have the same success?

          My take on the +/- is that, sure, a few pucks will go in the other way against your team when you’re out there but the dominant “elite” players will be on the ice sourcing more rather than their opponent at even strength. Also, these players should be playing with other top line players to maximize this trend.

          Those who rack up points on the PP (not counted in +/-) and give up goals at even strength are of a lesser caliber than those who dominate on both the PP and at even strength. The latter is the elite player.

          • Dave says:

            A pitcher’s win counts are very reliant on the team’s strength. It’s not a stat the pitcher is in full control of, much like +/-.

      • RangerSmurf says:

        Philly’s a great example, because they have approximately 35 centers in the lineup nightly. Step and/or Anisimov can move to wing if really pushing for playing time.

  2. Brian SCS says:

    If Richards becomes available the Rangers will pursue him plain and simple. There is a reason why players like Thornton, Plekanec, Bergeron and Marleau get locked up by their respective teams and that is because center depth is both the most difficult to acquire and the most important to have.

    Look no further than some of the teams still alive in the playoffs – San Jose, Vancouver, Detroit, Tampa, Boston and Philly all have either great center depth, elite centers or both.

    • Brian SCS says:

      Oh, and don’t be surprised if Richards never hits the open market – the only reason why he MAY become available is because of Dallas’ ownership situation. Otherwise he would have already received an extension at about $7mil per.

  3. Mikeyyyy says:

    The addition of Richards would e for a cup run. Which means you need a cup run ready team. We need a pp qb.

    This ays back to smithian playernomics. I’ll buy myself a contender instead of developing it.

    You wan the centers to learn make messier an assistant coach. He’s elite.

    The way torts plays is the top line gets 20+ a night. Take that away from budding players and their development stalls.

    And for what, an injury prone center who hasn’t put a full season in the last 5 years. To be a setup man for gabby?

    Sorry I don’t see the return of overpaying for another aging useless vet.

    • Chris says:

      Sorry Mikeyyy but i really struggle to see how you’re reasoning this to be ‘buying a team again’ IF the Rangers got Richards.

      He would be brought in to compliment the core and add elite skill. When you have developed Staal, Dubi, Cally, AA, Girardi, Lundqvist, Sauer etc, etc… how is one good signing ‘buying a contender’?

      And only once since ’03 has Brad Richards played less than 74 games in a regular season. In that time frame he played 82 games 3 times, 80 once and 74. So you also aren’t signing an injury prone guy either.

      It’s also OK to develop a team but its naive to think a 100% homegrown team can win a cup. You simply can’t do it. The window of opportunity is too small and the cap era prevents it. You need to find a balance. Richards (or a similar type center) helps NYR find that balance. This team’s window to win SHOULD be approaching in the next 2 years. He helps big time.

      • The Suit says:

        I with Chris. Getting Richards doesn’t stunt the growth of Stepan or Anisimov. Either we’ll potentially have 3 great centers, or we’ll move one of them to wing. PS I’m interested in seeing Anisimov set up along the half boards anyway.

        Now of course, I’d rather run around my office with a roll of toilet paper hanging out of my pants than I would see Richards get a 6-7 year contract. However, if we can get him for 4 or 5 max. I’d be done for that.

    • Section 121 says:

      Thank you Mikeyyyy – I agree completely.

      Furthermore, does it make more sense to pay (and play) players like AA and Stepan a mere fraction of 7M+ rather than an injury prone potential 80pt player?

      Let’s face it, if Richards comes to NY, we’re not going to win the president’s trophy and contend for the cup immediately a la Messier’s arrival. Don’t over pay for an older, unreliable player like this who couldn’t even lead his team to the playoffs this year on a solid team.

      In two years;
      Step at 875K and 65pts
      AA at 1.85M and 55pts
      Boyle at 1.5M and 30pts

      Dubi at 3.5M and 60pts
      Cally at 3.75M and 55pts

      Gabby at 7.5M and 70pts?

      I’d rather have five or six young players b/t 50 and 60pts than two older, injury prone, potential 80 pt getters. Save the money for those who deserve it.

      • Chris says:

        sorry – where is the theory of Richards being injury prone coming from guys? one year he misses 20 games and he’s injury prone?

        And he’s a point/game player. Has been for at least 5 of last 6 years. If that’s not elite then what is. Looking how many players averaged pt/game this yr. They are few and far between.

        • Section 121 says:

          Well, that hasn’t gotten his team to the playoffs in the last three seasons.

          Unlike a Messier arrival after dominating and winning the Cup without Gretzky.

          Stay away from Richards, he isn’t worth it.

      • RangerSmurf says:

        If Anisimov only has 55 points in 2 years, something went horribly wrong.

  4. Chris says:

    One final thing (to bring this topic back to Stepan):
    A center depth of: Richards – Stepan – Anisimov – Boyle/Hagelin (or insert prospect) is very much homegrown and has a lot of skill and should be together for a long time. Perhaps the foundation of success?….

  5. Dave says:

    Depth is built down the middle. Look at all the past Stanley Cup champs: center depth, decent defense, and a hot goalie is the consistent formula.

  6. Mikeyyyy says:

    Please with the thing about him not being injury prone.

    The guy just came back from a serious concussion. Let’s sign another headcase

    Because we really need another 7m dollar man sitting in the press box

    Oh and he’s a defensive liability. So let’s see how he does with the team.

    Bad player, bad contract to even think about signing.

    • Dave says:

      Prior to 2008, he missed 2 games total…but he played 84 games (62 TBL, 12 DAL) in 2007-2008, so that counters those 2 games.

      He played 56 games in 2008-2009, of which he had a broken wrist. He missed 10 games this year with his concussion.

      He’s not injury prone.

    • Chris says:

      Mikeyyy its one thing to not like him or not want him – thats your opinion as a fan, totally respect that – but to call him a bad player is plain ridiculous.
      9 players scored more than him this season. 9 only. He had 3 points less than Zetterberg in 8 games less. So unless 95% of the league are ‘bad players’…..

      • Mikeyyyy says:

        He just had a serious concussion. Hello.

        Once u get one the rest come easier.

        But hey. I bet you guys were also jumping for joy when resigned Gomez and drury

  7. Matt J says:

    Richards is fine. The rangers are not making a bad move. Without Richards we have no shot at a cup in the near future. Let’s not kid ourselves we can’t score consistently. And our powerless play is horrifying.