Is it safe to say Derek Stepan is a number one center for the New York Rangers? Is he worth giving big-time dollars to? Is he the present and future of the team?
You could argue yes. The 24-year old has done much and taken on responsibility in his four years with the Rangers. Last season, he produced 57 points (17 goals, 40 assists). That was good for second on the team, behind Mats Zuccarello. Also, he was tied for 26th among active NHL centers with David Backes in total points scored.
During the Stanley Cup playoffs, he produced 15 points (five goals, ten assists) in 24 games played. He missed one game due to an injured jaw suffered during the Eastern Conference Final with the Montreal Canadiens. However, it was what he did in Game Five that proved his toughness. Not only did Stepan come back and play in Game Five, but he helped the Rangers win by scoring two goals. Despite looking like Hannibal Lectre with his helmet protection, he wasn’t phased by the incident and got his revenge.
This season is an important one for Stepan for several reasons.