Stepan Maturing

March 2, 2012, by

Two things really stand out about Derek Stepan this season; when he has a bad game or bad period it doesn’t linger and he comes straight back with an improved performance. That is evidence in itself that he is a quick learner which will stand him in good stead for his career. Secondly, this season Stepan’s game is really rounding out despite being on course for fewer goals than his rookie year.

During the Carolina win Thursday night, Stepan was credited with a game high four hits. He blocked two shots, had three of his own and of course grabbed two assists. There wasn’t much Stepan didn’t do against the Canes. It’s become a typical all-round performance from the still 21 year old American center.

Stepan is on course for a 50+ point season and his development this year has probably kept the criticism of Brad Richards’ production from being louder. It’s not often the coach leaves lines in tact but barring a mid season divorce, the ‘GAS’ line has remained a constant. A large part of that has to do with Stepan’s ability to mesh so well with Marian Gaborik.

You want consistency? Taking into account Stepan is a 21 year old sophomore he has only once gone longer than three games without a point this year and that was the very first four games of the season including the Sweden trip.

Stepan has already registered more hits, in twenty games less, than in his first year, equalled his powerplay production, is blocking more shots, and will likely take more shots in his second year as well. Overall, Stepan has shown tremendous signs of development including in his already quality decision making. Stepan is becoming an essential part of the Rangers and has cemented himself a place in the top six for the foreseeable future.

It doesn’t matter where the Rangers play, Stepan makes sure he contributes. 22 points on home ice, Stepan also has 19 away from the world’s most famous arena; evidence that he isn’t a home bird. Against possible playoff opponents such as the Devils, Flyers and Senators Stepan has produced against them all.

He hasn’t been perfect by any stretch, but Derek Stepan continues to show the kind of developmental trajectory that gets fans excited. A player blessed with intelligence, maturity and skill Stepan will be a quality Ranger for many years to come – exactly why Glen Sather refused to even consider parting with the Rangers’ very own McLovin.


  1. Walt says:

    You can change the stripes on a zebra after all!

    For years Slats would trade youth for re-treads, and now he is holding on to the kids, and they are paying off for us. Thanks Glen for not moving Stepan, he is the real deal. Also, great observation about how he, and Gabby have developed some wonderful chemistry together. Now if they, along with Artie can score a little more, and the second line picks up a bit, we should be very sound going into the play-offs!

  2. AD says:

    Attributing Stepan’s nice development to his maturity level is spot on. It is easy to overlook how distracting it is to play pro hockey in NYC, and how difficult it is to develop consistency as a professional athlete, period.

    This is the primary fault with Dubinsky, unfortunately. His maturity level is lacking his years in the league. A trade might do him good, if it leads him to re-evaluate his career and commit to the discipline required to produce on a consistent basis.

    • Zen says:

      Not sure anything can help Dubi. What a disappointment. I wouldn’t care if he made $2M a year, but that contract is a debacle for what he brings. So unfortunate.

      • Jeff P says:

        Think of MDZ last year. You’d think he’d be buried in the minors forever off that.
        Some people have off years. Dubi can come back.

        • Chris says:

          It’s a good point. As bad as he has been it’s too early to write him off, although he may be traded in the summer.

          MDZ had the advantage that he was unique in the organisation so they showed patience.

          • Zen says:

            How can anyone compare Dubi to MDZ? Dubi has been in the league several years, while it was only year 2 for MDZ. Dubi has been frustrating pretty much every year of his career, showing mind-boggling decision making and inconsistency. I think he has the skill, but I just don’t think there is anything upstairs to make it work. How many more chances is Dubi gonna get???

          • Zen says:

            Just to add… Dubi indeed plays a good two-way game, but we can find that anywhere for $2M or less.

  3. The Suit says:

    Great write up Chris. I think it is important to note that Stepan has also improved on the draw, when many said he wouldn’t. This year he is winning 45%, which isn’t great, but its a big improvement from 38%. I think as he continues to grow into his body, he will only get better.

  4. Jim says:

    I see Step modeling his game after Cally. Just my opinion but I think Derek has seen how great things can be when you give 100% and do the little things that help the team. Attitude & Maturity is not something that can be taught. It has to come from within, and Stepan has it. I see an “A” on his sweater one day, probably at the end of Richards’ contract.

  5. ranger17 says:

    would like to Step with Cally and Hags BR with AA and Gabby for a few games Prust and Boyle and Dubie are starting to mesh as well 4th line is what ever you need for any given game Feds will always be in the line up Torts fav Scott Rupp and Mitch according to the team we are playing

  6. broadwayb says:

    so very happy that no trade was made at deadline.

  7. broadwayb says:

    dubi only needs to work on maturity.
    it serves him right with all the lip he has put out in the media last 2 years about other players and their skill. this was a swift kick in the (_|_)
    if he can shut up and play his game he’ll benefit in a huge way along with his team.