Three rookies made the Rangers out of camp last season, Michael del Zotto, Artem Ansimov and Matt Gilroy. This year, Derek Stepan and Michael Sauer, it appears, will be the only two.
Stepan, the undisputed favorite for the Lars-Erik Sjoberg Award as top rookie of camp, forced his way to the forefront after just two years in college. The 20-year-old likely will be centering Sean Avery and Ruslan Fedotenko.
Asked about Stepan’s ceiling, coach John Tortorella said: “I think it’s unlimited due to his maturity....he’s a very mature kid and I think that will speed up the process of becoming a pro. We’ve got to allow him to play...explore his offense.”
When I asked the coach today to compare him and Del Zotto, he responded: "Michael is more outgoing and he’s out there where it looks like Step just lies in the weeds and he likes that part of it....He’s just a very respectful, humble kid. He also knows he feels good about himself. Michael’s confidence is more out there and that’s fine. Step’s is an inner confidence.”
Stepan will switch from No. 57 to 21, the number he wore in Wisconsin.
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