Mar. 19, 2012; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers center Derek Stepan (21) handles the puck during the third period against the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden. Rangers won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

Derek Stepan Quietly Having A Solid Sophmore Year

Personally I had fear of a sophomore slump for Derek Stepan this year. He’s proven me wrong. Right now he has the fourth most point totals on the team with 47 and I didn’t think he’d be that high up at the start of the year. I wouldn’t say he proved me wrong, but I’d say he surprised me.

In a year in which Dubinsky and Anisimov regressed a bit offensively, Stepan definitely stepped up. For a second year player, he’s playing extremely well with the role he’s been given. For a while he was centering Gaborik, and now that Richards is doing that, he’s centering a very formidable line with Callahan and Dubinsky. Over the past few games they’ve definitely looked good and created some good chances.

I can’t help but think acquiring Brad Richards in the offseason really helped Stepan’s growth. Richards is definitely a guy Stepan can learn from and they play an extremely similar game. Not too flashy, and then they suddenly appear and get the team on the board. Stepan has great potential and I slot him as a 30-30-60 guy in his prime. He can hopefully be a center on this Rangers team for a very long time.

Be sure to follow me on twitter @Matt_J1.

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Tags: Artem Anisimov Brad Richards Brandon Dubinsky Derek Stepan Marian Gaborik Ryan Callahan

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