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About Last Season: Derek Stepan

The veteran center was a fourth-line mainstay in his second season with the Hurricanes. Could another one-year deal be in the cards for him to make it three seasons in Raleigh?

NHL: APR 19 Eastern Conference First Round - Islanders at Hurricanes Photo by Katherine Gawlik/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Derek Stepan: 2022-23 By the Numbers

  • Age: 32
  • NHL Seasons: 13
  • Scoring: 5 goals, 6 assists, 11 points in 73 games
  • Playoff Scoring: 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point in 11 games
  • Advanced Stats: 61.5 CF%, 57.9 HDCF%, 52.3 GF%, 58.8 xGF%
  • Average TOI: 8:21 ES, 0:03 PP, 0:40 SH
  • Contract Status: UFA

It was far from a guarantee that Derek Stepan would spend a second year with the Hurricanes. After his contract expired in the summer of 2022, the veteran center commanded little interest on the open market, and a return to Carolina seemed possible, especially after Max Pacioretty’s torn Achilles opened some salary cap space.

Stepan did eventually sign, although it took until the eve of the new season, and spent training camp on a PTO. Once back in the fold, he took up his customary fourth-line center role and held that down for the majority of the season, only missing 11 games. His 73 games were the most in a single season since he didn’t miss a game his first season in Arizona, in the 2017-18 season.

Stepan has slowed significantly since his days with the Rangers and Coyotes, and now fills an elder statesman role in the Canes’ locker room. A two-goal performance against the Devils on New Year’s Eve was the high point of Stepan’s season, and his five goals were by far the lowest total of any season in his career in which he played at least 70 games.

A depth penalty killer whose role is essentially to buy time for players further up the roster to take a breather, what’s left of Stepan’s NHL career is likely to amount to a series of one-year deals signed late in the offseason on a team that needs minimum-wage veteran talent to squeeze under the salary cap. That sounds a lot like the Hurricanes, doesn’t it?

Fourth-line filler is a dime a dozen across the NHL, but there’s certainly benefits to knowing who you’re signing. If Stepan is comfortable with his role, which by every account he certainly seems to be accepting of, then the Hurricanes signing him as a 13th forward makes a lot of sense for both sides. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if Stepan is right back in the lineup on opening night in October.


How would you grade Derek Stepan’s 2022-23 season?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    A - outstanding performance
    (4 votes)
  • 13%
    B - above average performance
    (45 votes)
  • 63%
    C - average performance
    (208 votes)
  • 19%
    D - below average performance
    (64 votes)
  • 2%
    F - significantly below average performance
    (7 votes)
328 votes total Vote Now