Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Everyone loves Derek Stepan

As you know, Derek Stepan recently participated in the NJEC. The camp consisted of 3 intrasquad scrimmages and 4 games v. Russia. Stepan was held off the scoresheet during the intrasquad scrimmages, but he fared quite will in the games v. Russia -- scoring 1 goal and 7 assists for 8 points in 4 games. Nice!

DPlaya, of course, spotted some nice write-ups about Stepan's play at the camp, and I'm shamelessly going to steal them from him. (Thanks, DP!)

The Prospect Park: It's really nice to dream
Note - this was written after 2 games v. Russia, so stats listed are reflected accordingly.
While the numbers being put up by the Ranger prospects have been really nice (Stepan 4 assists, Bourque 2 goals, 1 assist) what is being overlooked has been their defensive play.
Derek Stepan has been as we have been saying since last season, a very smart player who's skating skills opens up ice for his linemates. Stepan in our eyes has perhaps the highest hockey IQ of all Ranger prospects as he makes smart play after smart play.

He has 4 assists but his own pressure on the forecheck is helping the US keep the Russians limited to just 2 goals in 2 days. Stepan was viewed as just a one way player but the teachings of his coach at Wisconsin Mike Eaves is paying dividends.

Rangers website: Stepan helps USA clinch series vs. Russians
Derek Stepan, the hottest of the Rangers prospects in Lake Placid, fittingly scored Team USA's final goal of the series -- a power-play tally at 13:35 of the third period. He also assisted on a power-play goal at 14:44 of the second period to put the U.S. up 4-0.

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.

Blueshirt Banter: Derek Stepan steps up at USA-Russia Evaluation Camp
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.
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?

So, to sum up, he plays smart, he skates well, he hits, he's not afraid to shoot the puck, he has vision, he passes well, he plays tough in front of the net, he forechecks, he plays well defensively, and he plays hard . . . What's not to love?