Shawn’s Musings: I Miss Derek Stepan
Hey guys, Shawn here with another one of his posts where you’ll probably disagree with it.
Guess, what. That’s the joy of the internet. We can each have our own opinion.
Today’s topic is something that I’m sure will be talked about as me being whiny, or complaining way too much.
I miss Derek Stepan.
Now, I know we traded him for what turned out to be Tony DeAngelo and Lias Andersson. While I wasn’t expecting an immediate impact out of Andersson (okay, I’m lying) I was expecting to see DeAngelo at least as the New York Rangers seventh defenseman.
Now he’s in Hartford, fighting to stay in their lineup as well. Yet, that’s a whole different problem, as the logjam they have there is really troubling, and you know I really can’t put my finger on why we have this problem…
Anyway, back to the topic at hand, Derek Stepan.
While we know what the reason was for the trade, let’s see if its impact was necessary.
Why Trade Derek?
It was a business move that according to many, “had to be done”. His no-trade clause was about to kick in, his cap hit of $6.5 million over the next four years was going to be a challenging one. Especially since the team has a lot of RFAs coming up in the next couple of years that Jeff Gorton will want to keep, or at least attempt to. Guys like Kevin Hayes, Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei, JT Miller, the list goes on.
Now, business wise this made sense. Trade the guy before his no-trade hits, and we won’t be stuck with his cap hit. All will be fine, we’ll put our faith into Mika Zibanejad, who has all the tools to take it to the next level. We’ll see if he’s ready to take the plunge.
Zibanejad as 1C
Was a great experiment, and was paying off big time. Zibanejad with Chris Kreider and Buchnevich were using their strengths to be a top first line in the NHL. But most importantly, they showed when they played together how well they gelled to be a consistent line.
Zibanejad took the new role and ran with it. Even stepping up in the leadership aspect, becoming more vocal. He was truly embracing it.
Via @hayyyshayyy's investigative work
This is before the hit by Helm that concussed Zibanejad.
Zibanejad already released control of the puck. Ref is right there. The distance between Helm (#43) and Zibanejad a second after he gives up the puck is anywhere from 7-10 feet. pic.twitter.com/3qzZqPenyR
— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) December 1, 2017
Now I miss Derek
With Zibanejad getting concussed for the fifth time in his career, it’s a glaring hole. A glaring issue that we have depth issues at center. You know, a guy like Derek Stepan, he would well you know, help.
Now Stepan is missed in other areas, especially with the penalty kill being one of his strengths, but his defensive play five on five is also missed.
Kevin Hayes has shown that he can take that role, but is still adjusting to playing the defensive-minded role, something I’m sure as we can all tell, wasn’t something he was used to playing.
The center depth was going to be an issue all year long, being the fact if we lost Zibanejad, we wouldn’t really have much of a sure first replacement to be our first center while he was out.
Now, the simple answer is who can we call up from Hartford. You see guys, I had this crazy idea, why not give Filip Chytil a try. Well..
Still waiting for Jeff to respond back to me on how to handle this. Saturday was a weird day when I saw that.
So, maybe not Chytil, but the answer isn’t David Desharnais. While I like what he has to offer, and what he’s brought so far to now the KDB line, it’s not going to be sustainable. His minutes will diminish because that’s how Alain Vigneault rolls, and we’ll be stuck until Zibanejad comes back.
I think the toughest thing right now is the constant yo-yo-ing of JT Miller. Going from wing to center in the pre-season, sticking to the wing, and now back at center, it’s really hard for him to get his game going. Yet, we’re seeing him stick with it as he’s been playing really solidly. Yet, let me say this, Miller is NOT a center. Thank you for reading that.
I’m always going to miss Derek Stepan, it’s just the way it’s going to be but now. I’m just going to miss him more than I have with this injury to Zibanejad. Let’s hope it’s not super long or this won’t be super fun for the team.