Kevin Forbes at Hockey's Future posts the results of their Staff Calder poll with Derek Stepan at #8...
8. Derek Stepan, C - New York Rangers
DOB: June 18, 1990
Drafted 51st overall (2nd round) in 2008
The New York Rangers lack of depth down the middle has paid off early on in the season for Derek Stepan. A former standout with the University of Wisconsin and the captain of Team USA's gold-medal winning World Junior squad last winter, Stepan's in his first year of professional hockey and already seeing big minutes and big responsibility with the Blueshirts. He's already started his NHL career with a bang as only the fourth player to score a hat trick in his first NHL game. Faced with the impossible task of continuing that pace, Stepan currently has five points in 13 games for the Rangers. The 20-year-old has already seen his ice time dwindle from a high mark of more than 20 minutes early in the season down to an average of closer to the 10 minute mark over the last five games. Playing alongside Marian Gaborik prior to the Slovakian's injury, Stepan will be worth keeping a close eye on if he regains his star line mate when Gaborik returns to the lineup.
...it's definitely been a learning experience for Stepan since the opening night hat trick. But playing less minutes on the fourth line isn't always a bad thing as he gets to learn the NHL game at a little slower pace. Instead of putting him in a position he may not be ready for.
...having said that, in the third period last night he showed some chemistry with Frolov as they immediately connected on a scoring chance and I fully expect him to be centering the third line tomorrow night against the Capitals.
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