One of the main reasons the Arizona Coyotes made their big offseason trade in which they traded the seventh overall pick in this year’s draft and prospect defenseman Anthony DeAngelo to the New York Rangers was to acquire Derek Stepan. According to Jim Cerny of Sporting News, the Coyotes have high hopes the center will provide much-needed offensive help, but what the team is also looking for is to have him lead their young team.
With 515 games of experience under his belt (and 97 more in the playoffs), the 27-year-old already has plenty of experience. And while no captain has been announced, Stepan is among a short list of candidates for it. Arizona has a number of young potential forwards under 23 years, including Clayton Keller, Dylan Strome, Max Domi, Brendan Perlini, Christian Dvorak, Christian Fischer, Anthony Duclair and Lawson Crouse.
“I’ll try to do what I do best, play a 200 foot game, try to make the guys around me better, and try to be a leader for these young guys,” said Stepan. “When I was a young guy, I had older guys do it for me, and I want to do the same thing for them. Hopefully I can step in and help in all aspects.”
- It remains early and there is plenty of training camp remaining, but Sean Shapiro of Wrong Side of the Red Line writes that the Dallas Stars’ defensive pairings could already be close to decided. With four players already locked in, including John Klingberg, Esa Lindell, Dan Hamhuis and Marc Methot, the real battles are for the final two positions. Shapiro writes that based on their play so far and head coach Ken Hitchcock’s comments, it looks like Julius Honka and Stephen Johns are easily in the lead with Jamie Oleksiak and Greg Pateryn both fighting it out for that seventh and final spot on the defense. That would leave Patrik Nemeth out entirely.
- The Chicago Blackhawks’ Nick Schmaltz could be looking at a position change, according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times. Having played wing next to Jonathan Toews during his rookie season, the 21-year-old forward is being given an opportunity to center the team’s second-line with Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane. Lazerus said head coach Joel Quenneville strongly hinted that Schmaltz would take that spot on the second line, which would force Artem Anisimov to the third line. If he gets the job, Schmaltz will have to work on his faceoffs, which was last (30.9 percent) among 210 players who had taken 100 or more faceoffs. According to Quenneville, the second-year forward worked with Sharks center Joe Pavelski over the summer and plans to work with Toews more during camp.