An era ended for the New York Rangers on Friday afternoon, when Derek Stepan, as well as backup goaltender Antti Raanta, was traded to the Arizona Coyotes.
A second-round pick of the Rangers in 2008, Stepan has been a vital part of the Rangers‘ success over recent years, starring in both Ranger blue as well as representing his United States of America on the international level. Though Stepan may be bound for the desert, but his contributions to the Rangers will not be soon forgotten.
Take a Stepan on memory lane, as we count down his top five moments in Ranger blue…
5) Down But Anything But Out
The Rangers dropped Game 5 of the 2014 Eastern Conference Final against Montreal, but it turned out to be a personal victory for Stepan. After taking the brunt of a dirty hit by ex-teammate Brandon Prust in Game 3, Stepan returned with a more protective helmet to shield him from further injuring a broken jaw sustained in the hit. He scored two goals to let Prust and the Habs know they he wasn’t going anywhere…and neither were the Rangers, as they advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.
4) Boston Buglary
The Rangers’ 2013 conference semifinal series with the Boston Bruins was a mostly forgettable affair, but it feature this slick Stepan score, in which he stole the puck from Zdeno Chara…no easy task…and slipping it past Tukka Rask to open the third period with the game tying goal, helping the Rangers pick an overtime win at MSG.
3) Save By Stepan
The Rangers’ 2014 Stanley Cup Final showdown with the Los Angeles Kings featured fantastic goaltending…and questionable calls…but Stepan, ever so briefly, stole the tending spotlight from Henrik Lundqvst and Jonathan Quick. Wearing a special helmet due to his playing with a broken jaw, Stepan forced an LA shot away from the goal line in the penultimate minute, preserving a 2-1 Rangers win and enabling them to extend the series.
2) Hot Buffalo Winger
Stepan’s NHL career got off to the best start possible on opening night of the 2010-11 season. In his first NHL game, Stepan became, ironically, the third player in NHL history to put in three goals in his debut, as well as the first Rangers rookie to tally three. It was part of a busy rookie year for Stepan, who also partook in the NHL All-Star Weekend and IIHF World Championships festivities.
1) Capital Punishment
The Rangers came back from 3-1 down before the Cavs and Cubs made it cool, doing do in back-to-back years including the 2015 Eastern Conference Semifinal against the Washington Capitals. The comeback was capped by Stepan’s winner in overtime, as he stashed in a Dan Girardi rebound for the winner, sending MSG into hysterics. The image of Stepan’s leap will forever be etched into the memory of Rangers fans, sealing one of the greatest comebacks in NHL history.