I’ve always been transparent about how I feel about Derek Stepan - which is to say that I’ve always had a hard time evaluating him. This has been the case back when he had a full head of hair as a rookie in 2010-2011. And it was true right up until the Rangers traded him.
Stepan was considered by many to be New York’s de facto top line center after Jeff Gorton traded Derick Brassard last offseason. And that came hand-in-hand with greater expectations for his play. The closing window of time when the Rangers would be able to trade him (before his NTC kicked in) and his $6.