Forward Derek Stepan was drafted in the second round as the 51st overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft by Glen Sather and the New York Rangers. In August of 2008, Stepan enrolled as a freshman for the Wisconsin Badgers of the WCHA (Western Collegiate Hockey Association). In two seasons with the Badgers, he totaled 87 points in 81 games played.
He then signed his first professional contract with the Rangers on July 1, 2010, preceding his junior and senior years at Wisconsin. On October 9, 2010 he became the first player in Rangers history and the fourth in NHL history to record a hat trick in his league debut. He had a strong debut campaign in 2010-11, as he scored 45 points in 82 games played. He was named to 2011 NHL All-Star roster on January 11 of that same year and played in the superskills competition on January 29.
In 2011-12, in which the Rangers were defeated by the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference final, Stepan totaled 51 points in once again 82 games played. During last year’s lock-out, Stepan played with KalPa of the SM-Liiga in which he had 4 points in 12 games. The NHL returned in January, and Stepan finished the shortened-season with 44 points in 48 games, which led the team in regular season scoring.
This past summer, Stepan was due for a new contract. Talks between the Rangers and Derek did not go smoothly, as he went all summer with no deal and negotiations halted many times during that span. On September 26, 2013 Stepan was forced to accept a bridge-deal worth 6.15 million over the next two years. These on-going negotiations required him to miss all of training camp and that proved pivotal in his early season performance in 2013-14.
Stepan went all of October without a goal and just seven measly assists. Something must have came and bit him because now in November he has four goals, which includes a hat-trick against the Carolina Hurricanes last Saturday. His season totals are now four goals, eight assists and 12 points in 16 games played. Those 12 points have him listed second on the team in scoring.
Derek has evolved into a true number one center for the Rangers, something in which they have never really had. Stepan has proven that he belongs in this league and he can keep up with the on-going pace and speed of the game. Stepan is a vital part to this New York offense and when he is on his game, it is quite hard to get him off of it.
If he can keep this hot-streak in November going, the Rangers are going to have tons of success scoring goals and continuing to win games and pick up points. Which at the end of the day, is all that really matters to fans and management alike.