As reported by a few members on the Banter, the Rangers have agreed to terms with Derek Stepan. This seems to have gotten lost among the other signings today, so here are some highlights of the press release:
To read the full press release please go here.
Stepan, 20, served as Captain of Team USA at the 2010 World Junior Championship, leading the United States to just their second Gold Medal (2004) in the elite tournament. He led all skaters in assists and points en route to being named to the tournament All-Star Team, as selected by the media. Stepan finished the tournament with four goals and 10 assists for 14 points in seven games.
This season, Stepan registered 12 goals and 42 assists for 54 points, along with eight penalty minutes in 41 games with the University of Wisconsin Badgers of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). He established career-highs in games played, goals, assists, points and penalty minutes.
Stepan ranked among the NCAA leaders in several scoring categories, finishing tied for first in the nation in assists and ranked second in points. He also led the WCHA in points, assists and power play assists (22), and tied for fifth in power play points (23). The second-year player led his team in assists and points, tied for third in game-winning goals (three) and seventh in goals while surpassing the 40-assist and 50-point marks for the first time in his collegiate career.
Join me after the jump for more highlights, and some quotes from Stepan and other Rangers prospects.
The 6-0, 190-pounder skated in 81 career NCAA games over two seasons with Wisconsin, recording 21 goals and 66 assists for 87 points, along with 14 penalty minutes. In 2008-09, he led all Wisconsin Freshmen in goals (nine), assists (24) and points (33), while finishing second on the team overall in points and assists, and tied for sixth in goals.
Stepan on what this means for him:
"For me it was the right move because I felt that I was ready for the next step. I have all the respect in the world for the University of Wisconsin, and they got me to where I am at today, but it just felt like the right move for me.”
“I just control what I can control, so I am going to go out there and put my best foot forward and compete as hard as I can and let the organization do whatever is best for me."
Kreider on Stepan:
“It’s hard to put into words, but he is a player, he gets it. Some guys don’t get it, but he knows where to be, knows what plays to make, has great hands, great hockey sense. And he’s got leadership qualities to boot, too. It’s all very natural to him.”
"He was a major reason why we were so successful at World Juniors. We weren’t favored and he did an amazing job leading us. He gets people to come together, such a leader on and off the ice.”
Grachev on Stepan:
"When he has the puck, he just doesn’t dump it in, he is smart with the puck. He is a good play-maker and he can also score. It is really enjoyable to play with him. I’d like to play with him one year with the Blueshirts.”
Hockeysfuture talent analysis of Stepan:
A pressure player, Stepan can score as well as act as a playmaker. Defensively responsible, the Minnesota center thinks the game well and loves to play along the boards.
"Stepan has the ability to make plays and score goals. He understands how to do all the little things defensively that are such an important part of winning hockey games." Ray Clearwater, Rangers' amateur scout.
Stepan currently ranks 2nd on the Rangers' top prospects list on hockeysfuture. This is just the first step in Stepan's development, and if the prospect camp has shown anything, it's that Stepan has a bright future ahead of him.