Derek Stepan participates in the NHL All-Star Skills (Credit: AP )

Derek Stepan participates in the NHL All-Star Skills competition. (Jan. 29, 2011)

Derek Stepan

The Rangers selected center Derek Stepan out of Wisconsin in the second round of the 2008 draft. He captained the U.S. World Junior team to a gold medal in 2010 and won the Lars-Erik Sjoberg award as the best rookie in Rangers training camp later that year.
See Stepan's bio and statistics

6) THE ROOKIES It's been a while since
(Credit: Getty Images)

6) THE ROOKIES
It's been a while since the Rangers had three rookies playing significant roles on a playoff team. In fact, no other NHL team has three rookies playing as many minutes as Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh and Michael Sauer do for the Rangers.

Stepan scored 21 goals this year. He brings needed playmaking and creativity to the Rangers' top six forwards. McDonagh and Sauer have become the Rangers' third and fourth defensemen, an extremely rare feat in the NHL. Perhaps most astounding is the fact that all three youngsters do not seemed overwhelmed. The postseason will be their baptism under fire; how each of them holds up could have a lot to say about the Rangers' playoff fate.

The Rangers' Derek Stepan celebrates scoring an empty-net
(Credit: AP)

The Rangers' Derek Stepan celebrates scoring an empty-net goal to seal a 5-3 win for the Rangers against the Boston Bruins. (Apr. 4, 2011)

Derek Stepan #21 of the New York Rangers
(Credit: Getty Images)

Derek Stepan #21 of the New York Rangers passes the puck around Mike Green #52 of the Washington Capitals during the first period at the Verizon Center. (Feb. 25, 2011)

Derek Stepan #21 of the New York Rangers
(Credit: Getty Images)

Derek Stepan #21 of the New York Rangers shoots on Henrik Lundqvist #30 of New York Rangers in the elimination shootout during the Honda NHL SuperSkills competition. (Jan. 29, 2011)

Derek Stepan #21 of the New York Rangers
(Credit: Getty Images)

Derek Stepan #21 of the New York Rangers participates in the Honda NHL SuperSkills competition. (Jan. 29, 2011)

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Derek Stepan participates in the NHL All-Star Skills
(Credit: AP )

Derek Stepan participates in the NHL All-Star Skills competition. (Jan. 29, 2011)

Carolina Hurricanes' Ian White (7) falls to the
(Credit: AP)

Carolina Hurricanes' Ian White (7) falls to the ice as New York Rangers' Derek Stepan (21) passes the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game. (Jan. 20, 2011)

New York Rangers center Derek Stepan (21) and
(Credit: Newsday / Christopher Pasatieri)

New York Rangers center Derek Stepan (21) and Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Luke Schenn (2) tussle after a whistle during the first period at Madison Square Garden. (Jan. 19, 2011)

The Rangers' Derek Stepan shoots the puck against
(Credit: Jim McIsaac)

The Rangers' Derek Stepan shoots the puck against John Carlson of the Washington Capitals. (Nov. 9, 2010)

New York Rangers' Derek Stepan (21) shoots the
(Credit: AP)

New York Rangers' Derek Stepan (21) shoots the puck past Ottawa Senators' Brian Elliott during first-period NHL hockey game action at the Scotiabank Place in Ottawa. (Dec. 9, 2010)

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Rangers center Derek Stepan celebrates scoring the game-tying
(Credit: Christopher Pasatieri)

Rangers center Derek Stepan celebrates scoring the game-tying goal during the third period against Tampa Bay. (Dec. 23, 2010)

New York Rangers' Derek Stepan (21) shoots the
(Credit: AP)

New York Rangers' Derek Stepan (21) shoots the puck past Ottawa Senators' Brian Elliott during first-period NHL hockey game action at the Scotiabank Place in Ottawa. (Dec. 9, 2010)

Rangers center Derek Stepan celebrates a goal by
(Credit: AP)

Rangers center Derek Stepan celebrates a goal by teammate Dan Girardi as Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff (34) looks on. (Nov. 22, 2010)

The Rangers' Derek Stepan skates against the Islanders
(Credit: Jim McIsaac)

The Rangers' Derek Stepan skates against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. (Oct. 11, 2010)

Rangers center Derek Stepan looks on against the
(Credit: Jim McIsaac)

Rangers center Derek Stepan looks on against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. (Oct. 11, 2010)

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Rangers center Derek Stepan, right, is congratulated by
(Credit: AP )

Rangers center Derek Stepan, right, is congratulated by teammate Brian Boyle after his hat-trick performance in his NHL debut against the Buffalo Sabres. (Oct. 9, 2010)

The Rangers' Sean Avery, left, Derek Stepan, center,
(Credit: Getty Images)

The Rangers' Sean Avery, left, Derek Stepan, center, and Marian Gaborik celebrate Stepan's first NHL goal against the Buffalo Sabres. (Oct. 9, 2010)

Rangers rookie Derek Stepan watches his shot hit
(Credit: Getty Images)

Rangers rookie Derek Stepan watches his shot hit the top corner of the net as Buffalo defenseman Craig Rivet (52), goalie Ryan Miller and defenseman Andrej Sekera (44) look on. It was Stepan's second goal of the night in his NHL debut. (Oct. 9, 2010)

The Rangers' Derek Stepan tries to fend off
(Credit: Getty Images)

The Rangers' Derek Stepan tries to fend off Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov during a preseason game. (Sept. 23, 2010)

The Rangers' Derek Stepan tries to get past
(Credit: Getty Images)

The Rangers' Derek Stepan tries to get past the Devils' Anton Volchenkov behind the New Jersey goal during a preseason game. (Sept. 23, 2010)

The Rangers' Derek Stepan scores a shorthanded goal
(Credit: AP)

The Rangers' Derek Stepan scores a shorthanded goal past Ottawa Senators goalie Brian Elliot during the second period of a preseason game. (Oct. 1, 2010)

Former Rangers second-round draft pick Derek Stepan captained
(Credit: Getty Images)

Former Rangers second-round draft pick Derek Stepan captained the gold medal-winning U.S. team in the World Juniors and led the tournament in scoring. (Jan. 5, 2010)