Red, White and Blueshirts


Prospect Spotlight: Derek Stepan

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Derek Stepan, Center
6-0, 168 lbs.
Date of Birth: 06-18-1990
Drafted in 2nd Round of 2008 NHL Draft

Stepan is an intelligent playmaker who possesses an all around game and loves to play along the boards and in the corners. After leading his prep school Shattuck-St. Mary’s in scoring (44 goals and 67 assists) during the 2007-08 season , Stepan was drafted by the Rangers. This past season he attended the University of Wiscoinsin and posted 9 goals and 24 assists in 40 games as a freshman. Where Stepan really impressed his coaches was off the ice as the freshman showed the ability to work hard, pick up on the coaching and be a team leader by example. The Rangers scouts see his maturity as a sign of things to come and project him to be a future second line center and possibly claim a leadership role upon his entry at the NHL level.

What the Scouts are saying:
“Derek Stepan has the ability to make plays and score goals. He understands how to do all the little things defensively that are such an important part of winning hockey games.” Ray Clearwater, Rangers’ amateur scout.

The word so far on Stepan has been that he is “consistent, hard working and a leader”. Sounds alot like another Rangers prospect who has graduated to a spot with the big club and shown his value to the franchise over the last two seasons, Brandon Dubinsky. If Stepan continues to develop physically and sticks to building his all around game, he could grow into the type of player that could pay huge dividends in the second line center spot for the franchise. Here is some video of Stepan during his freshman season at Wisconsin (He assists on the first goal, then scores the second on a shot from in front):

Next Week: Ryan McDonagh

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Prospect Spotlight: Evgeny Grachev

This is the first in a weekly series of profiles on the youngsters currently in the Rangers organization who will be counted on to contribute in the future.

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Evgeny Grachev, Center/Winger

6-3, 212 lbs.

Date of Birth: 2-21-1990

Drafted in 3rd Round of 2008 NHL Draft.

Evegeny Grachev is currently considered by many to be the Rangers top prospect in the minor leagues.  After scoring 40 goals and 40 assists for 80 points in 60 games and sporting a +48 rating for the Brampton Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League this past season, Grachev was announced as the winner of the OHL Rookie of the Year award. He was invited to the Rangers Prospect Development camp last week and by all accounts was the strongest skater to participate. Known for his strength and creativity with the puck, Grachev will need to improve on his play away from the puck to impress the Rangers brass both during the upcoming Traverse City Tournament and in training camp later this summer. Grachev will be given every opportunity to win a spot with the big club in camp (especially if forward Nik Zherdev leaves the team) and will be counted on to contribute immediately should he be given the chance. If he does not make the team in camp, Grachev will be expected to continue improving his game (most likely with the AHL’s Hartford Wolfpack) and will probably be the team’s first call up in case of an injury or in response to a slow start at the NHL level.

What the Scouts are saying:

Grachev is a top prospect with size, a physical presence and good hands. An above average skater with a pro shot and the ability to protect the puck, Grachev has transitioned from being a center to being a winger. Expected to be a power forward at the next level, Grachev will need to work on giving the team a consistent effort throughout the game, but there is no question that he has all the skills to be a top-six forward in the NHL. – Hockey’s Future

Everything we’ve heard or seen about Grachev has been positive so far and it seems this young man could be the one to fill the void of an offensive juggernaut in the Rangers organization after the tragic passing of the talented Alexei Cherapanov last season. Here is a video of Grachev during his award winning season with the Brampton Battalion:

Next Week: Derek Stepan