As camp started this weekend, Derek Stepan took center stage, assigned to the team's top line with Marian Gaborik and Alexander Frolov for the Rangers' first scrimmage. While it's still extremely early to read too much into the move, it did seem to pay off. Stepan scored a goal and set up one of Frolov's three scores.
The momentum keeps building for Stepan who previously turned in a solid showing at the Traverse City prospect tournament. It's no guarantee that Stepan will start the season centering the Rangers' top line, or even that he'll beat out a deep group of vets for a spot on the roster, but Stepan's situation is holding everyone's attention early on. More on the matter below.
Larry Brooks notes that since Stepan is a right-handed shot he'd need to use his backhand to set up Gaborik on the right wing. That factor previously killed the potential for a Chris Drury, Jaromir Jagr pairing. (Despite Jagr's claims, it may be more difficult, but it's not impossible. Lefty-shooting Nicklas Backstrom hasn't exactly struggled to set the table for the righty-LW Alex Ovechkin in Washington. Not saying Stepan is on par with Backstrom, but the situation can work.) Gaborik had some thoughts before they took the ice.
Here are the highlights from the second scrimmage, via Ranger Rants.
Larry Brooks says Rangers rookie Derek Stepan’s biggest contribution could be lightening the mood in the locker room should he stick with the Rangers.
Blueshirt Banter offers analysis on Stepan’s NHL readiness.
Stepan also makes SI’s list of intriguing young players in training camp.
Speaking of fights, check out some footage of Randy McNaught’s bout at Traverse City via SNY Rangers Blog.
It’s a little old, but Sather discusses the team’s prospects in a Q&A on the official site.
Sather told the media he has no plans on leaving his current role as GM and that head coach John Tortorella’s job is safe, according to the New York Daily News.