The New York Rangers were dealt an unfortunate setback this morning during practice. First-line center Derek Stepan fractured his fibula during a conditioning drill at this morning’s practice. As of this posting, the Rangers do not have a time table for Stepan’s return, and it is all but certain that he will not be back for the season opener.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) September 24, 2014
Derek Brassard will likely move up to the first-line center role in Stepan’s absence. After Brassard, the depth trails off significantly: Dominic Moore – 18 points, J.T. Miller – 6 points, Matt Lombardi – 8 points (2013), and Chris Mueller – 0 points.
During the 2013-14 regular season, Stepan finished second overall on the Rangers for points (17 goals, 40 assists). By comparison, Brassard had 45 points (18 goals, 27 assists).
While replacing Stepan will be difficult, the Rangers are fortunate that this injury occurred so early in the season. The 2014-15 season does not start for another two weeks, and then the Rangers only have nine games scheduled in the month of October. So while Stepan might be out for an extended period, the impact on the number of games missed will not be as great. This of course is assuming that Stepan has a quick recovery from the injury.