This week’s Cage Match – who is the better fantasy own, Logan Couture or Derek Stepan?
The last time we discussed Derek Stepan I had him losing to David Desharnais. Oops.
After a huge breakout season (44 points in 48 games) Stepan looks like a star. He always had potential but we could only wonder if it would ultimately translate. It obviously has. But this season is fraught with small sample size wonders. Many a player has put together a great half-season. Dustin Byfuglien was a point-per-game defenseman for 40 games once, ditto for Dustin Penner at forward for a similar stretch. This isn't so much a slight at those guys but rather a reminder that strange things happen over smaller stretches of games. We simply don't know if Stepan has the mojo to sustain those scoring rates over 82 games, especially with much more difficult travel coming next season.
A huge sign that regression is coming for Stepan comes from his 16.7% shooting this season, which is about four percent higher than his career average of 12.6%. Stepan is a good shooter but he probably can't sustain that rate of success for 82 games. And Stepan wasn't shooting more this season. He averaged 2.25 shots on goal per game, which is only a slight increase over his 2.06 SOG/game pace from last season. So unless Stepan starts shooting significantly more his goal scoring rate will almost certainly regress.
Stepan also isn't seeing much more quality ice time. It's true that Stepan's minutes went up this season from 18:56 to 20:55, a two minutes increase but a large portion of that came on the penalty kill where his minutes per game jumped from 1:17 per game to 2:06, while his power play time dropped slightly from 3:06 per game to 2:50.
That this increase in responsibility only served to invigorate Stepan is a huge credit to him but one must