A month ago, Rangers fans were more than willing to see the struggling Derek Stepan sent to the Colorado Avalanche for Ryan O'Reilly.
While Stepan offered more offensively than O'Reilly, Rangers fans felt O'Reilly's superior face-off ability and toughness made him a much more viable option for the Blueshirts.
Since those rumors, Stepan has gone on an absolute tear. While initially, Rick Nash was the catalyst for Stepan's turn around, he has continued to light up his opponents even after the superstar winger was taken off his line.
In his last seven games, Stepan has 4g, 4a and has separated himself from Brad Richards as the Rangers top center.
Not only is Stepan doing it five-on-five, he's also been a standout on the Rangers resurgent power play as well as the penalty kill. Heck, he's even been at 50% on faceoffs lately.
Here's his short-handed goal last night...
And if you needed further proof of how well Stepan's playing, he actually made Michael Haley look like a scoring threat last night.
He is also blessed with the leadership qualities you love in a young player and is the perfect candidate to have a letter on his chest very soon. Maybe in two years after the Rangers use their amnesty buyout on Richards.
Stepan is in the final year of his entry level contract that pays him $875,000 this season. He will be an RFA this summer and with the cap decreasing next year it'll be real interesting to see how contract negotiations will transpire this off-season. Sadly, I can see things getting a bit ugly similar to when Dubinsky was a free agent.
Unfortunately for Stepan, as an RFA the Rangers have the upper hand. Just ask Michael Del Zotto.
Stepan is playing fantastic right now.You know, this could be conditoning, he is finally in good game condition,mentally and physically.Your accolades deserved because he is a great NHL player.He belongs as the 1st line center right now, until RIcards gets to the same condition level.Hags, Stepan and Nash, with some time together and if Hags and Step shoot more, would be one of the top lines in the league.
@trazjaxor saw that he came back 15 pounds heavier (muscle wise) over the summer....glad to see it paying off.
Gabby's not getting traded! And if I'm wrong I don't like either of those deals @slapshot13j . A world class sniper who scored 40 goals last year does not get devalued for being in a slump and having an off season. sure he's not physical and teams will look at that but he's worth more in my humble opinion. As for answering the article I was never impressed with Stefan - I thought he was over rated. You know what? I was WRONG. This guy's for real and I'm so happy Slats did something right and not give him up in the Nash deal
@Betweentheworlds Patrick Marleau is a sniper as well... 34, 32, 19, 38, 44, 37, 30, and 13 this year. That is starting in the 2005-2006 season. Clearly is capable of putting up big numbers, not the same player as Gaborik, but you are also getting Clowe who is an infinitely better player than Boyle. In my opinion it is a change of scenery for both groups of players, we lose marginally nothing in terms of top end talent, but gain a much better 3rd if not 2nd liner. Also, Marleau is a LW who could work very well with Nash... Honestly the fact is this trade won't happen because San Jose is getting the raw end of the stick here. I would take this deal and run, and I am a big Gaborik supporter...
@slapshot13j I'm not faulting you for suggesting that at all, he had a great year in '09/'10, his numbers are definitely close with Gabby and I'm willing to bet he might actually hit someone once in a while, I just personally don't like it but it's not off base. Still I think Gabby's more valuable because he's 3 yrs. younger, put up better numbers in the hard checking eastern conference under Torts without a set up man. don't think Marleau would put up those kind of numbers here, and his goals and points have fallen off significantly since that great season. The Boyle for Clowe thing - no way. that's a steal!
@TheNYRBlog in my opinion steph played well enough to take richards A .playing with cally has elevated his game .
Two possible trades, Marian Gaborik and a second round pick for Mike Cammaleri and Lee Stempniak (take back some extra cap with Stempniak). Second trade would be Marian Gaborik, Brian Boyle, a prospect and a second round pick for Patrick Marleau, Ryan Clowe and a 3rd rounder. This is only if the Rangers are serious about getting rid of Gaborik. In the second option we would be taking on more cap then we would be giving up, so we may have to try and dump Hamrlik. Also, I think San Jose would be willing to part with Marleau because after his torrid start, he has gone ice cold and a change in scenery may help that. Let me know what you guys think...
@slapshot13j Cammalleri has a horrible contract and is even streakier than Gaborik. Second, the Sharks deal is OK, but Patrick Marleau has played with a world class center in Joe Thornton his whole career, and has a bad cap hit, so it's hard to believe he's going to get much better, I think he's starting to go on the twilight of his career. I do like the idea of picking up Clowe.
@slapshot13j Trading Gabs is a bad idea. Maybe it makes sense financially, but you need guys like that. Even when he's older he'll be a threat. Look at Hossa - You need a sniper like that in the line up. He may not be Rick Nash, but he's still putting in 40 goals a year. Only reason why Marleau's numbers are where they're at is because he has a guy like Thornton setting him up for a long time. If Gabs had a consistent center for more multiple seasons, who knows what kind of numbers he would have. I'm not even going to address the fact that he's on the LW this year, and quite frankly he's adjusting just fine; considering how bad someone like Ovie's looked since changing positions.
@leewardtide I think Gaborik is a great player, and I think Marleau is a great player... Change of scenery and style of play may be the perfect thing for both of them
@slapshot13j Also Clowe, really? I get the financial aspect, but give me a break. We need to win within the next few years and these guys have been stuck in the purgatory known as the second round of the playoffs (at best).
@leewardtide You are telling me Clowe is a worse hockey player then Brian Boyle? You must be high if you think thats the case. Also, he is a ufa after this season so if he plays well we can keep him, if not he is gone
Also, Clowe's contract is up this year so that 3.625 will likely be coming down and it wont destroy us during the resigning of our current players in the offseason
Stepan deserves around 3 years and 4.15 million, and I would give Mcdonagh the same contract. Then give Hagelin 3 years at 3.2 million and call it a day
@slapshot13j 4 mil a year? You're joking right? You do realize Girardi and Staal aren't making that money and Callahan is barely above it (he's at 4.275). I love the two of them but no way Rangers management is giving them more than those three guys. Try 2-2.5 mil a year each, if they're lucky.
@Melissa (blknblueshirts) If you think you are getting Mcdonagh for less then Girardi you are out of your mind. Mcdonagh has so much more pure talent than Girardi, and plain and simple is a better player. As for Stepan, Ryan O'Reily set that market, and while he wont get that crazy contract it definitely went up because of that...
@GLENsatherVSglennDANZIG Nash, Mcdonagh and Girardi would all be in consideration for it too if Richards does get bought out
two years, I think you mean after this shortened season when they buyout Richards. But I dont know if he gets an A, there are a lot of guys who are also options (Mcdonagh, Girardi, Nash would all be ahead of him in my opinion). Also Stepan should be back on Nash's line no question
I def thought O'Reilly would have been better to have but Step has made me take a second thought. I think I would still prefer O'Rielly but its much closer than I thought and Steps been awesome lately.
I love step and love the play, take nothing away from him....great power move and pass by cally and great job going to the net at an angle away from Leopold by Step.....but what is Leopold doing? that is horrid defense, it reminds me of what we saw from Gilroy and Del Zotto their rookie years, just reaching for the puck aimlessly and not taking the body
Love Stepan. He's been the real deal since day one. No question he was a NHL talent and now he's a cornerstone piece of this franchise. And he keeps improving. Not the best finisher the rangers have but not bad and hopefully he improves there too.
@rangersfan It's funny, when you look at him he's not the fastest player, doesn't have the hardest shot and isn't physically imposing, but he just gets the job done.
@KevinDeLury He does a lot of things really well though. He makes plays with the puck in traffic and has very good vision / touch with his passing. He's also got great "hockey sense" and knows where to be and where to go without the puck. His shot is underrated - it's pretty heavy, but his release is not lighting like gaborik or other great scorers. He's also a little bit like Callahan in that he's not big, but he's not afraid to play physical and he uses his body really well. He's also got decent speed. On the flip side, I can't think of anything he does poorly. He's even pretty good on faceoffs now, which was a big weakness. He's a gem. A classic under-the-radar guy who does so many good things.
I'd like to see him finish a little more though. He seems to get stuffed point-blank more than he should. That sequence against Ottawa where he was stuffed is a prime example.
@thelink44 well Perry would make us have 4 natural right wingers in our top 6, so I would be more in favor of making a trade like I say at the top, Gabby for a solid LW like Marleau or Cammaleri and add depth in the process also.
@slapshot13j 100% agree, we should buyout richie and go for perry, tho perry is a right winger. perry nash cally, hags, step gabby and miller....that would look really nice.
On another note.....do you guys think it is worth trading Gabby this off-season before his contract is up after next season? I personally don't want to extend his deal and would rather get something for him now
@kicker75 @KevinDeLury btw, as much as I love Stepan, I don't think he's a #1 center on a stanley-cup winning team. He's a superb #2, but as a #1, I think you need a real star to win the cup. Or you need extra firepower everywhere else. I worry about the Rangers this year if Richards doesn't take it to another level.
Am I missing something? We have Nash Richards Gaborik and Haley is talked about as a scoring threat because Step fed him a few times. They were awful last night. Under achieving. They deserved to get ripped by Tortorella. If they continue with the half ass effort they will be working on their golf handicap sooner rather then later. Only bright spots last night was Stephan Callahan(as usual) and Hank was left with no support. Shit better change fast.