From the moment he recorded a hat trick in his NHL debut on October 9, 2010 in Buffalo, Derek Stepan has been an integral part of the New York Rangers. With Monday’s agreement on a multi-year contract between Stepan and the Rangers, both parties will continue this successful partnership for many years to come.
Bringing Stepan back into the fold was the last most important piece of summer business for new General Manager Jeff Gorton, who previously had agreed to terms with restricted free agents Emerson Etem, J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast, Dylan McIlrath and Oscar Lindberg and unrestricted free agents Viktor Stalberg, Raphael Diaz, Luke Adam and Brian Gibbons. New York also acquired goaltenders Antti Raanta and Magnus Hellberg in trades earlier this month.
Stepan notched 55 points this past season—two shy of his career-best of 57 set in 2013-14—despite missing the first 14 regular season games of his career due to injury. He established a new career-high by posting a +26 plus/minus rating which was second best on the club in 2014-15, and his five shorthanded points (2-3-5) were not only a career-best, but tied for second most in the entire National Hockey League, as well.
Since joining the Rangers fresh out of the University of Wisconsin at the start of the 2010-11 campaign Stepan has amassed 89 goals, 163 assists and 252 points while appearing in 362 of a possible 376 regular season games. With another three points Stepan will tie Darren Turcotte for 50th place on the Rangers all-time scoring list.
The 25 year-old Stepan led the Rangers in scoring during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, posting 44 points in 48 games. He was New York’s second-leading scorer the following season and ranked third this past season.
Though just a five-year pro, Stepan already has 80 games of Stanley Cup Playoff experience. This past spring he scored the series-deciding game-winning goal in overtime of Game Seven to eliminate the Washington Capitals in the second round at Madison Square Garden; and in another desperate must-win game earlier in the same series, he earned the primary assists on Chris Kreider’s late third-period game-tying goal and Ryan McDonagh’s overtime winner in Game Five, also at MSG.
A fixture among the Rangers’ top six forwards at even strength, as well as on the power play and penalty kill, Stepan has never averaged fewer than 18 minutes of ice time since his rookie season.
Stepan’s signing brings all of the team’s restricted free agents back into the fold for the upcoming campaign.