Monday, October 4, 2010

Stepan Makes Rangers, McDonagh Sent Down

The ride to becoming a full time NHL player has lots of ups and downs, and Derek Stepan is figuring that out early. Learning that he had made the Rangers out of camp was a life long dream come true. Learning that one of his best friends and roommates Ryan McDonagh would be sent down to Hartford (AHL) was tough news to take.

“It was a bittersweet day for me with Ryan moving out,” said Stepan. “He was bummed, but he also knew that it’s not the worst thing. He’s very close to being an NHLer and he’s going to have a long career.”

Stepan, a 20 year old center who was vital in all aspects of Wisconsin's run to the National Championship game last season has silenced the critics who deemed him not ready to turn pro.

Those critics included myself. Consider this an apology.

Stepan looked fantastic in the pre-season with the Rangers registering 5 points in 5 games and settling into a role on a line with famed agitator Sean Avery and Ruslan Fedotenko.

"For some reason, me, Aves, and Feds have seemed to click right from the first game we played together,” said Stepan. “They are two veteran guys who know how to work it, and they will help me a lot.”

For McDonagh, being sent to the American League should only fuel his fire. As the player I felt was most NHL ready out of all the players on last years Wisconsin club, Hartford should only be a minor pit stop on the road to NHL greatness.

Despite sending McDonagh down, head coach John Tortorella was pleased with the play of his young defenseman.

“You have to make sure that you don’t force feed as far as their development,” said Tortorella. “The quicker they get down there to play and go through the American Hockey League, that will be the right process to get them up here quicker to play in the National Hockey League. When that will be, I don’t know. But they (McDonagh and Paval Valentenko) both had good camps.”
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