What The Rangers Really Have In Derek Stepan

November 9, 2011, by

Apparently Derek Stepan is part of the Rangers young core. Well, the sun goes down at night if you didn’t already know. Most people that took notice of the 2nd year Rangers’ rookie year will know what kind of a player the Rangers might have on their hands. Anyone that followed his career prior to landing in New York knows that Stepan can handle big games too. The World Junior Championships being exhibit A.

At this stage of his career however, there may be a better question to consider. Instead of whether Stepan is part of the Ranger core (he is – duh); what is his upside both statistically and in terms of roster spot? Has it changed since he burst on to the scene with a hat trick last season?

What is perhaps most impressive with Stepan is a key ingredient required for sustained success in the New York sports world: temperament. Stepan had a poor start to this season – at least offensively speaking. How often did you see him vent his frustration or how often did you see him smash a stick against the boards? Never. Stepan is a grounded individual with vision and a huge dose of skill. I’ll bet you that his approach to the game played a big part in the recent turnaround in his play (and production).

His pass for Marian Gaborik’s first goal against the Jets was a great display of accuracy, patience (allowing the play to develop) and awareness. He knew very well that he had one of the best shooters in the game in perfect position to his right. Derek Stepan makes good decisions. At this stage Rangers fans will be enthused by the depth at center if Stepan and Anisimov continue to grow their game. For the record: given the prospects en route to the big club (Kreider, Thomas, Hagelin, Miller) do not think Anisimov’s future lies on the wing unless he blows the roof off of the renovated MSG offensively.

Derek Stepan could round out as a very nice, high end second line center; a compliment to Brad Richards. For those fans that think that’s not a good place to be or even an insult check out some of the other teams in the league who have had recent success. Having a good one-two punch down the middle is a great recipe for success. Look at the Penguins, the Wings, the Sharks, Canucks – they all have impressive center depth.

Back to the question at hand; what is Stepan’s potential upside? Rangers’ fans should (would?) gladly accept a 50-60 point playmaker with an impressive hockey IQ and defensive conscience any day of the week. That Stepan’s offensive production may be capped because of Richards being ahead of him in the depth chart should be immaterial. Having a great 1-2 punch is what matters most and the way Stepan is going recently, the Rangers appear to be on their way to having a lethal combo on their hands.


  1. Matt J says:

    Stepan is the real deal and great young player. Sure there are some better young centers out there like Logan couture, but still for a second rounder stepan is a great player and still developing. I think there’s no reason to think when he hits prime he’ll be a number 1 center on this team or another.

    • Dave says:

      I think Stepan develops into a better center than Couture.

      • The Suit says:

        Seems like only yesterday people were claiming he’d never make it at center or improve at faceoffs…and here he is today much improved, just like we said he would

        • Dave says:

          I was worried about a sophomore slump, but McLovin has shown he doesn’t know what that is.

        • RangerSmurf says:

          I’m going to credit Tortorella there. You have an advantage in faceoffs as the home team, which would help someone like Step.

          At home, Stepan’s taken the 3rd most faceoffs, winning 50%. On the road, he’s got the 5th most, winning only 41%. Similarly, there’s an advantage to winning faceoffs on the PP, and Step’s taken 30% of his total faceoffs on the PP.

          Obviously he improved his skill set, but the total percentage is coming from Tortorella managing his asset correctly, and giving him an opportunity for success.

  2. Walt says:

    The best part of the scenerio you put out there is the fact that Stepan is only 21 years of age, developing at a nice pace, and there is very little, if any pressure on him.. Brad Richards is the man who is under the spot light, so Stepan can, and will develope nicely, and get very good advice, and direction from Brad.

    Derek is a major part of this teams future, and with the potential coming up in the system, we should be very strong long term. Artie should be a part of that future because he has the skill set, is defensivly responible, can play the PK, and now is showing his flexibility at playing the wing.

    Not bad for two kids picked in the second round each. Lets hope our number one picks pan out as well as these two young men have!!!!!

    • Dave says:

      This is another benefit of having BR around…when his game starts to fade, he will have taught Stepan everything he knows, and Stepan will be able to take up that role.

      • Bobby G says:

        I was actually just thinking about this? At what point do you think Stepan permanently takes the #1 center spot and BR drops on the depth chart? Im thinking 2-3 years or so.

        • Dave says:

          I’d assume in 3-4 years. Stepan is only 22, he has a long way to go.

        • The Suit says:

          It could happen, or Richards could wind up playing with Gabby again, or Arty could take off offensively, lotta ifs.

          The good thing is we have three guys who are very good players, very valuable to the team, and aren’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future.

  3. Zen says:

    As I stated this summer, Stepan is the real deal. His ceiling is only limited by BR’s presence there. He is a winner… period.

    AA needs to get a backbone. The dude is sooooo soft on the ice. He is huge, but gets thrown around like a rag doll. That is okay if you are scoring like crazy, but he isn’t. Most of his game fits a 3rd line center role perfectly, but a little more grit to his game would be ideal.

    • The Suit says:

      Anisimov has been playing great this season and has not shied away from board play at all.

      Matter of fact the other night 2 goals we scored came directly off of great takeaways by AA down in the dirty areas of the ice.

      Nothing about his game this year should be characterized as soft or lacking backbone.

    • Dave says:

      Anisimov is third on the team in points. What more do you want from him?

      • RangerSmurf says:

        3rd on the team in points and pretty much their best defensive center.

        I still see Anisimov taking the #1C spot before Stepan. It’s a fantastic problem to have though.

  4. Leatherneckinlv says:

    Derek Stepan’s future lies with Krieder and hopefully we can find a Tyler Biggs type or Tyler Biggs himself for a line, that will have a visionary and set up man in Stepan, the speedster and sniper in Krieder and the Biggs type down low for screens and garbage goals, protector of the two and the mucker of the line. This line will be a very formidable line, slot Thomas in with Gaborik and Anisimov and then have the Richy, Cally Dubi line. Who cares which line is number 1 line, what we have are 3 very dependable lines that can score and that would give us in return the best 4th line in the NHL with Boyle centering Prust and a pick of Miller, Rupp, Bourque or Hegelin. Miller can be slotted on the Stepan line with Krieder, however I really like Biggs on that line. Just my gut feeling on that one. That’s the future I see for Stepan and the Rangers in general.

    • The Suit says:

      Haha you’re still on the Biggs bus huh? Kudos for your persistence.

      • Leatherneckinlv says:

        Yeah, I like that kid in how well he would fit in with those two. It’s justa big hunch on my part, the kind that in years past when I had it it just panned out. I like Miller too though, last year I was following Biggs’s progress. This year I am monitoring Koekkoek and Rienhart

        • The Suit says:

          I”l be sure to keep them on the lookout.

          You made a great point though. Could you imagine a top 9 of Step, Gaborik, Dubi, Cally, Richards, Arty, Kreider, Thomas, Hagelin, should the latter three pan out?