Originally written on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 6/27/12

KANATA, ON - OCTOBER 02: Derek Stepan of the New York Rangers concentrates on the puck before a faceoff during a game against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place on October 2, 2010 in Kanata, Ontario, Canada. The Ottawa Senators defeated the New York Rangers 8-5. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

Whether the 'sophomore curse' in hockey is a form of fictional imagination or an actual disease that lingers into the games of second-year players, Derek Stepan was a victim of the curse in his 2011-12 campaign. It didn't hit him hard or substantially lower his value to the franchise by any means, but it was there and it had its effects. As just a 22-year-old, however, all of this surely is not a large concern after just two seasons at the National Hockey League level for Derek. He had his ups and downs this season, but then again, who on the Rangers didn't?

The Good: Despite falling short of the 20-goal mark this past year, which he exceeded in his freshman season, Stepan did manage to record ten more assists than he did in 2010-11, placing him fourth on the Blueshirts in scoring. Stepan showed just how great of a playmaker he can become many times this season, especially when playing alongside Ryan Callahan on the second line when that opportunity presented itself. I think it is safe to say that Stepan did find the type of player he wishes to become as his career progresses. 

Plus, he's versatile in the sense that head coach John Tortorella can use Steps on the powerplay, on the penalty-kill, he can take faceoffs, he's very discipline for the most part and appears to be an extremely quick learner. The traits are there for Derek Stepan to become a fantastic player in this League, but now it is just a matter of piecing them all together to form the perfect package. 

The Bad: After a very successful rookie year, expectations were set high for Stepan coming into 2011-12. When analyzing a player, I weigh in expectations probably more than anything else, which is why Derek ended up with a grade of a 'C' when I did the team report cards several weeks ago. Personally, I expected a lot more out of Derek than what we saw this season, as did management and even himself. Stepan is a much better player than the one that was noticeable two out of four weeks in the month. He's a better player than the one who played nervous in the postseason and was pretty much invisible. 

Now this is not to say Stepan took steps backward this season, but it is just that he did not take any forward, which is a bummer after a highlight rookie year.

Highlight of the Year:

 

Overall Assessment: Stepan's best hockey is ahead of him, and as I said above, he's yet to piece together the puzzle. Once he does that he will become the player that he and the Rangers had hoped. I'm aware there was some talk of Steps possibly being traded earlier in the offseason, but I think that is a load of rubbish if you ask me. The Rangers have not given up on this young man - they have no reason to. Allow him to play out the final year of his entry-level deal and then make judgements from there. 

Report Card Grade: C

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Three teams achieve separation in Aldridge chase

WATCH: Serena Williams wags finger at Wimbledon crowd, says, 'Don’t try me'

Report: Rajon Rondo headed to Sacramento Kings

Dez Bryant deal with Cowboys could be announced Monday

Brandon Saad, Ryan O’Reilly sign long-term contracts with Columbus, Buffalo

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Mavs solidify future, sign Wesley Matthews, DeAndre Jordan

A-Rod, Yankees settle dispute over home run milestone bonus

Report: Robin Lopez, Knicks finalizing four-year deal

Becky Hammon will coach Spurs' Summer League team

Jimmy Butler on Derrick Rose: ‘I don’t think we have any issues’

Yankees get A-Rod's 3,000th hit ball for $150,000 donation

The top American sports moments since the last Fourth of July

Nine former college football rivalries that need to come back

The most patriotic uniforms in American sports

Jeanie Buss: Brother Jim will step down if Lakers don't make deep run within two seasons

DeAndre Jordan to Dallas: The Los Angeles Clippers are literally mad men

Remember when the Cincinnati Bearcats were the scariest team in America?

Are the Angels now the worst organization in baseball?

Five reasons the Browns should play Johnny Manziel

Blue Jays need rookies to keep producing for success in 2015

WATCH: Sean Doolittle gets cup check from teammate

University of Florida developing high-tech smart mouth guard

Pat McAfee is the best punter in NFL history

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Russell Wilson 'would definitely consider' playing for Mariners

Solo, Rapinoe among USWNT stars up for World Cup awards

LBS on Sports Jeopardy! Here's how how it went

College football's 35 most patriotic helmets

A brief history of non-star All-Stars

With Love retained, the Cavs can take care of LeBron

Grading the deal: Davis commits to Pelicans

Obama Administration: Change name if Redskins move to D.C.

Deciding what the All-Star Game means

Odell Beckham Jr. offered professional baseball contract

Orioles keep finding a way to win

Lloyd sends USWNT to World Cup final

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.