The Triangle area has always been home to a significant diaspora from the New York metro area, and now it seems that the influx extends to the Carolina Hurricanes’ locker room as well as the PNC Arena stands.
On Saturday the Hurricanes agreed to terms with center Derek Stepan on a one-year contract, the fourth deal this offseason that Carolina has struck with a former member of the New York Rangers. Stepan’s contract will pay him $1.35 million.
“Derek is an experienced two-way center who can play in all situations,” Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to add another veteran to our lineup.”
The 31-year-old Stepan comes to Carolina after enduring a miserable season in Ottawa. Traded the day after Christmas from the Arizona Coyotes for a second-round pick, Stepan tallied just six points in 20 games before undergoing surgery on a torn labrum in March. At the time, the Senators announced that Stepan, whose previous five-year contract ended at the conclusion of the 2021 season, would recover in time to be ready for the start of the 21-22 season.
Stepan’s days of consistent 50-point seasons are largely in the past, tailing off significantly after a strong first season in Arizona in 2017-18. His final two seasons there saw him tally 35 and 28 points, respectively, and he is likely to be used as a fourth-line center and power play specialist with the Hurricanes.
The signing for Carolina gives them an extra option at center, allowing Jordan Martinook — who overlapped with Stepan for one season in Arizona — to permanently move to the wing, without piling too much pressure on Steven Lorentz as the only other realistic fourth-line option. Barring injury, Stepan will be behind Sebastian Aho, Vincent Trocheck and Jordan Staal on Rod Brind’Amour’s depth chart.
Stepan is the sixth player currently on the Hurricanes roster to have previously played for the Rangers, and adding in Joey Keane, who will likely spend at least occasional time with the NHL club, it’s possible that a full third of the Hurricanes’ game night roster may comprise former Rangers players at times this season. (And that total doesn’t include Westchester County native Brett Pesce, who grew up a Rangers fan.)
Incidentally, Stepan and two of his new teammates were once involved in the same trade; the 2017 deal which sent Stepan to the desert with once-and-future teammate Antti Raanta saw Tony DeAngelo go the other way. Lias Andersson, the player who was chosen with the first-round selection the Rangers acquired in the deal, just signed a new extension with the Los Angeles Kings a couple of days ago, so he’s not coming immediately. But at this rate, he may want to pack his bags.
The release from the team is below.
CANES AGREE TO TERMS WITH DEREK STEPAN
Center has recorded 485 points in 759 career NHL games
Don Waddell, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has signed forward Derek Stepan to a one-year, $1.35 million contract.
“Derek is an experienced two-way center who can play in all situations,” said Waddell. “We’re thrilled to add another veteran to our lineup.”
Stepan, 31, tallied six points (1g, 5a) in 20 NHL games with Ottawa last season. The 5’11”, 196-pound forward has posted 485 points (168g, 317a) in 759 career NHL games with the Rangers, Coyotes and Senators. Stepan has also skated in 106 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, registering 54 points (20g, 34a). He has represented the United States internationally at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship, winning gold, as well as the 2011 IIHF World Championship, the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. The Hastings, Minn., native was drafted by the Rangers in the second round, 51st overall, of the 2008 NHL Draft.