Derek Stepan recently announced he was hanging up the skates in a statement released by the NHL Players Association Tuesday. The Minnesota native played in 890 games and scored a total of 515 points in his NHL career. During his time in the league, he spent his first seven seasons with the New York Rangers, where he was drafted by them in the second-round of the 2008 NHL Draft. Stepan made the playoffs with New York in each of his seven seasons with the team, making three conference final appearances and one Stanley Cup final showing. The two-way center had his best statistical season in 2013 with the Rangers, recording 57 points in 82 games played.
On June 23, 2017, the Rangers traded Stepan along with goalie Anti Raanta to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Anthony Deagelo and their 2017 first-round selection (this would become Lias Andersson.) Stepan would spend the next three seasons in Arizona making a short-lived playoff appearance in the 2019-20 season in the bubble. The Coyotes would win their play-in series against the Nashville Predators, three games to one, before being bounced by Colorado in five. In his first season with Arizona in 2017, he tailed his best season with the team, scoring 56 points in 82 games played.
The Coyotes would trade Stepan to the Ottawa Senators in 2020 for a 2021 second-round selection. The newly acquired centermen ended up playing in only 20 games for Ottawa, as he needed surgery to repair a damaged labrum in his left shoulder. Stepan was limited to six points playing in the Senators’ bottom six lines when available.
The following summer, the Carolina Hurricanes would sign Stepan to a one-year contract. Playing in 58 games in the 2021-22, he only scored 19 points and was limited to bottom line minutes. Carolina brought the aging veteran back after a professional tryout right before the start of the 2022-2023 campaign. Stepan played in 73 games that season with only 11 points. Both of his years in Raleigh, the Hurricanes would make deep runs in the playoffs, where Stepan saw limited playoff-playing time.
Despite its quiet ending, Stepan’s career had lenty of highlights. He is one of four NHL players to notch a hat trick in his debut game. He netted the game-winning goal in overtime in game 7 of the second-round of the stanley cup playoffs against the Washington Capitals in 2015. Stepan’s remarkable goal call from legendary NHL commentator, Doc Emrick, would cap off the Rangers’ 3-1 series comeback to advance to the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The two-way centermen provided both impacts in the offensive and defensive zone, playing on the power play and penalty kill in his career.