Derek Stepan is a key piece to the Rangers. After this last season, Derek Stepan has found himself being included in trade rumors and many fans seem to want to trade him for a defenseman. Derek Stepan could likely return a top four defenseman for the Rangers if he were to be traded.
However, trading Stepan would be foolish. The Rangers have tremendous depth at the center position on their NHL roster. Moving him without getting a top line center back would cause this center depth to disappear.
Stepan is a top line center. He plays shut-down defense while also scoring 55 or more points every season. There isn’t a player on the Rangers’ roster who can replace what he brings.
Any trade for a defenseman will not make up for the gaping hole at center that the Rangers would have. It would just cause the Rangers to get significantly weaker up the middle. Center depth is important, just ask the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Rangers will likely have a busy offseason this year. The front office has their work cut out for them if they wish to win a cup during Lundqvist’s career.
If the Rangers’ front office is able to identify which core players they should be willing to dump due to poor play (Dan Girardi and Marc Staal), which they should be willing to trade for the right price (Rick Nash and Chris Kreider), and which they should not be willing to move (Zuccarello, McDonagh, Lundqvist, and Stepan), then the Rangers will be a fearsome team next season.