Since news of Derek Stepan and the New York Rangers troubles first broke, Islander fans from all over immediately grabbed their virtual pitchforks calling for an offer sheet from Garth Snow.
Many of those same people seemed to be taking the “want” more than the “need” approach with the goal of solely sticking it to the Isles cross town rivals. Others wanted the move to happen because of the legitimate depth it would add to the roster and believe Stepan’s skill would provide the team with an added bonus forward.
Whether you are in camp A or B, make no mistake about it, Garth Snow and the New York Islanders will not be sending an offer sheet Derek Stepan’s way any time soon.
Stepan is a solid player. There’s no doubt about it. Not only does he play the center position very well, he would be a great asset on the Islanders forward core while keeping the average age steady, just below 25 years young (24.75 to be exact).
At 23 years old, he would immediately create depth at the center position. With some of the young and new guys fighting for those last roster spots, it’s still a toss up as to who will fill the center role on the lower lines. Lines would need some rearranging to accommodate the Hastings, MN native, and opportunities would immediately be lost for some of the prospects we’ve watched thus far in camp.
Having played in every regular season game since joining the Rangers in the 2010-11 season, Stepan’s durability would be an added bonus to his play. His goal and assist numbers don’t necessarily jump off the page, but nonetheless, having another established center join the team wouldn’t hurt initially, but prospects may view that differently.
Guys like Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome have been at the center of the prospect discussions since the off-season began.
Optimism carrying over from the Islanders playoff debut lead to many fans believing they’d be seeing Nelson or Strome up this year as the next piece of the puzzle to take the team to the next level. Both have been showcasing their talents in camp and have proven they’re both right on the cusp of breaking onto the National Hockey League scene for the Isles.
Bringing in Derek Stepan will put an immediate stop to what both have been working for, and could potentially leave them with a sour taste in their mouths. As we’ve seen in the past, Islanders management believes in the system they have created and know what they have in many of the young stars working their way to the top. Believing in your homegrown talent rather than your rival’s talent is an approach the Islanders look to maintain.Offer sheeting a member of your number one rival is never a good idea.
Although it wouldn’t be any form of “cheap shot” per say, it’s a territory you don’t want to step foot in. Sure, the Rangers are riddled by the salary cap, but that doesn’t mean they would immediately forget about the Isles taking one of their star players and moving him 25 miles east. With guys like Casey Cizikas and Anders Lee coming up on restricted free agency themselves next year, the Rangers could very well pull a similar move and yank the Isles youngsters right from under them.
With training camp wrapping up and the regular season less than a week away, it’ll be interesting to see how the saga between Stepan and the Rangers concludes. Realistically, Stepan will more than likely be playing in Phoenix when the Rangers open up their season next Thursday. Until then, Islander fans can let the Derek Stepan ship sail and keep the dreams of offer sheets on hold until next season.