New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton announced today that the team has agreed to terms with restricted free agent forward Derek Stepan.
Stepan, 25, registered 16 goals and 39 assists for 55 points, along with a plus-26 rating and 22 penalty minutes in 68 games with the Rangers this past season. Stepan was one of two NHL players who ranked tied for fifth or higher on his respective team in all of the following categories in 2014-15: assists, points, game-winning goals, plus/minus rating, shots on goal, power play goals, power play assists, power play points, shorthanded goals, shorthanded assists, and shorthanded points (along with Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks). In addition, he was one of three NHL players who tallied 55 or more points, posted a plus/minus rating of plus-25 or better, and recorded 25 or fewer penalty minutes in 2014-15.
Stepan established career-highs in assists per game (0.57), plus/minus rating, shorthanded goals (two), and shorthanded points (five), and tied a career-high in shorthanded assists (three) this past season. He also averaged 0.81 points per game in 2014-15, which is the most he has averaged in an 82-game season thus far in his career. Stepan tied for the NHL lead in shorthanded assists and tied for second in the NHL in shorthanded points. He also tied for ninth in the NHL – and ranked third among NHL centers – in plus/minus rating. From the time he made his season debut on Nov. 8 until the end of the regular season, Stepan led the Rangers in assists, ranked second in points, and tied for fourth in goals.
The 6-0, 196-pounder registered five goals and seven assists for 12 points, along with 10 penalty minutes in 19 games during the 2015 Playoffs. Stepan tied playoff career-highs in goals and power play goals (two) this past year. He tied for the team lead in power play goals, ranked third in points and shots on goal (48), and tied for third in goals, assists, game-winning goals (one), and power play points (four) in the 2015 Playoffs. Stepan tallied the game-winning goal in overtime in Game 7 of the Second Round vs. Washington on May 13.
Stepan has skated in 362 career NHL games over five seasons, all with the Rangers, registering 89 goals and 163 assists for 252 points, along with a plus-85 rating and 94 penalty minutes. He has reached the 50-point plateau in each of the last two seasons and in three of the last four seasons (including each of the last three seasons which were 82 games in length). Stepan became the first Rangers center to record 50 or more points in three consecutive seasons which were 82 games in length since Wayne Gretzky did so from 1996-97 to 1998-99. Since he joined the Rangers at the start of the 2010-11 season, Stepan leads the team in assists and points, is tied for the team lead in goals, and ranks second in games played and plus/minus rating. He also ranks 10th in the NHL – and ranks third among NHL centers – in plus/minus rating over the span.
In addition, Stepan is one of five Rangers in franchise history who have tallied at least 40 points in each of their first five NHL seasons. He is also one of three Rangers in franchise history, and the only forward, to post a plus/minus rating of plus-eight or better in each of his first five NHL seasons.
Stepan has skated in 80 career NHL playoff games, all with the Rangers, registering 15 goals and 26 assists for 41 points, along with 20 penalty minutes. Stepan is tied for second in franchise history in playoff points by a player 24 years old or younger. He ranks eighth on the Rangers’ all-time playoff games played list and he is one of three forwards who have skated in at least 80 career playoff contests with the franchise. Stepan is also tied for ninth on the Rangers’ all-time playoff assists list.
Throughout his tenure with the Rangers, Stepan has received numerous honors and awards. This past season, he was named the winner of the John Halligan Good Guy Award, which recognizes a player, selected by the New York chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, for their cooperation with the media. Stepan was named an alternate captain on Oct. 6, 2014, and he received the Lars-Erik Sjoberg Award as the top Rangers rookie in Training Camp in 2010.
Internationally, the Hastings, Minnesota native has represented the United States in several tournaments. Most recently, Stepan skated with Team USA in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. In addition, he captured a gold medal as the captain of Team USA at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship, as he led all skaters in the tournament in assists (10) and points (14).
Stepan was originally selected by the Rangers in the second round, 51st overall, of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.