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Derek Stepan’s case for the Steven McDonald

Stepan for the Steven McDonald?

Stepan for the Steven McDonald?

Unless your name is Ryan Callahan, then you likely haven’t even come close to winning the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award. Cally has won three of the past four awards, and will certainly be in contention this year for his second in a row and four in the past five years. But, there is a growing sentiment that Derek Stepan should garner most of the attention this year, and this isn’t without cause.

Stepan has been unreal this year, better than anyone could have imagined. Currently second on the team in scoring (14-20-34 in 40 games), Stepan is on a six game point scoring streak, and has 24 points since the start of March (21 games). The offense is impressive and a true testament to Stepan’s skill, but it’s on the other side of the puck where he has made the most improvement.

Stepan is currently at 46.8% on face offs, which represents a 10% jump from two years ago, a sharp increase in an area that was considered a glaring weakness. Many thought that Stepan would eventually become a winger because of his face offs, but now it is less of a weakness, and something that he has been improving on year-to-year.

But perhaps the biggest change has been Stepan’s defensive play. He’s never been bad, but he’s taken a giant leap forward this year. His DGVt (6.4) is outstanding. His Corsi Rel QoC of .321 is second on the team among forwards playing 30 games. His RCorsi (9.0) and CorsiON (10.61) are among the team leaders as well. Put those two together and you have a player driving puck possession against other team’s top puck possession drivers. In short, he’s succeeding against tough matchups.

There’s also the on-ice factors, such as Stepan playing goalie a few times and saving some goals. He has laid out his body time and time again, and is sixth on the team in blocked shots. He’s never going to catch Cally in that department, but he’s shown willingness to do the dirty work to get the job done. Let’s also remember that in his first season, he was never used on the penalty kill. Now, he’s averaging two minutes a game on the kill. That shows work ethic and trust from the coaching staff.

The voting for the Steven McDonald award has opened, and you can text your vote to the Rangers if you haven’t already. Cally is probably the front-runner this year, but Stepan has a great case for the award this year. He’s been the best forward not named Rick Nash this season.

17 Responses to “Derek Stepan’s case for the Steven McDonald”

  1. Chris F says:

    It’s great to see Stepan round into near-elite form. He set the bar high with his 3-goal NHL debut game. It took a little time, but he hasn’t disappointed.

    • amy herman says:

      I would love to see Stepan get the award he has played with heart, grit and determination. he will be in the mix for the award.

  2. Leatherneckinlv says:

    And his face offs have vastly improved as well

  3. Dave says:

    Stepan will be a legit 1C in the future. He won’t be elite, but he will be a 60-70 point guy during his peak years.

    It’s his extra stuff that makes him special. He’s defensively responsible, improving on his weaknesses, and willing to sacrifice.

    • Spozo says:

      I always thought he would be a hgih end 2c but wouldn’t quite get to that 1c level. This year he is proving me wrong.

      • Dave says:

        Same here. But the difference between a high end 2C and a bottom end 1C is negligible.

  4. Chris F says:

    So, it’s getting to be that time of the season…

    Who does everyone hope to match-up against in the (hopeful) first round?

    Do we hope for the 8th spot and face-off against the Penguins, who are currently missing Crosby and Neal?

    Do we hope for the 7th spot and go against Boston, who we’ve had great, tight games against the past several years?

    Do we look to push for 6th and go against the Caps…again?

    • Randy says:

      I think we try and get as many points as we can and don’t worry about the matchup. Any team in the playoffs can give us a good series. With that being said, I would like to see another series with the Caps. We know we can beat them this year, and despite Ovechkin’s recent surge, they have not been a good team by any means. They have offensive fire power, but I think if we get Staal back in time, the blueshirts D will be able to shut down that top line. The Bruins, Canadiens (might still get 2nd), and Penguins are all much more difficult matchups for the rangers.

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      I really think Boston represents the best matchup for the Rangers. Rangers always play them tough and their lack of firepower offensively is glaring. They don’t have that blazing speed that the Rangers tend to have issues with. They need to hold off the Canadiens though as that matchup would be a nightmare for the Rangers.

      Pitt is always scary – especially if/when they get Crosby, Letang and Neal back. Washington is getting hot at the perfect time and it looks like they’re finally getting Oates’ system which could be bad news for the rest of the conference.

  5. Leatherneckinlv says:

    I would enjoy a match up against the leafs as a 5th seed and Toronto a 4th seed which is quite possible mathematically. It would be a very entertaining series

    • Chris F says:

      Randy,

      Obviously, from the players perspective, their goal is to win, and accumulate as many points as possible. I wasn’t suggesting that they should look to settle for a lower seed for a favorable match-up.

      However, as fans, we have the luxury of looking toward certain desirable matchups without compromising the integrity of the game.

  6. ranger17 says:

    Has anyone noticed that since Fatso won life time game #666 he has not won a game since . Odd no but the Devil beware

  7. Tim B says:

    Didnt Betts win the award? Or maybe he was in contention with Callahan who then won it.

  8. Rob says:

    If anyone watched Derek Stepan take over the WJC like I did several years ago, none of this would come as a surprise to you. Plus, he’s only gonna get better.

  9. Quotes from experts that didn't pan out says:

    “the anointing of Stepan ahead of Anisimov is somewhat baffling…The faceoffs were so bad, I don’t see them every coming around to an adequate level.

    I won’t argue Stepan has the skill set, and all rookies get sheltered year one. I just believe Stepan has to make some big strides himself before I start moving Anisimov.”