Last year the Rangers used their second round pick (51st overall) to select high school star Derek Stepan. In his first season with Shattuck-St. Mary's High-MN he scored 38 goals and added 32 assists for 70 points in 60 games. In his next season with St. Mary's he scored 44 goals and added 67 assists for 111 points in 60 games.
After his impressive high school career he moved on to the NCAA where he played for the University of Wisconsin--an incredibly distinguished and prestigious hockey school known for churning out NHL prospects and players. As a freshman he was second on the team in points with 9 goals 24 assists for 33 points in 40 games. It is safe to say that from this point forward Derek Stepan's numbers at the University of Wisconsin will be closely monitored. Now I am not an NCAA expert but Ican tell you that from watching my Quinnipiac Bobcats that 33 points, especially for a freshman playing on a great team in a great conference, is nothing short of brilliant.
Now everyone figured that Stepan would be a good player but questions loomed as to how he would fair on the international level during the USA-Russia junior evaluation camp. Well Stepan answered his doubters with some emphatic play. While most Ranger fans were probably wondering about Bourque and Kreider Stepan put up 8 points (1g 7a) in 4 games and was noticeable whenever he touched the ice. He hit well, he shot the puck often, he made some brilliant passes, and he played some solid defense. Regardless of his numbers he was a leader on the ice and was always involved for team USA. He got into scrums, he was not afraid to get dirty, he parked himself in front of the net and he gave a damn.
The New York Rangers official website did a story on the Rangers prospects who attended the camp. Here is a highlight from what they had to say about Stepan:
Stepan's numbers in the four-game series were remarkable. The University of wisconsin sophomore, drafted by the Blueshirts in the second round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, finished with one goal and seven assists for eight points in four games. Most of his scoring came on the power-play, where the U.S. was absolutely lethal.
He is not flash, but he is incredibly fast. Scouts, including our friend Jess at the Prospect Park, say that his calling card is blowing by defenders and just scoring goals. He doesn't try to do too much with the puck and--as we saw from the evaluation camp--he has some great vision. I am very excited about him, are you?
As for Ryan Bourque and Chris Kreider their numbers weren't as flashy but they were still impressive. Bourque had two goals and an assist in 3 games. But scouts watching the games said that he played much better than his numbers showed--that many of his passes were botched by others and should have been goals. And many of his shots missed the net by inches or hit the post. He was also not afraid to get dirty and hit and fight for the puck in the corners.
Kreider played in all four games and registered no points. But he also was very good playing everything from the PP to the PK and in the final game of the camp he was dominant but just couldn't buy a goal. Not bad for a kid who's only other competition was prep-school.
Put you're thoughts in the comments!