After weeks, if not months of speculation, Rangers' General Manager Jeff Gorton finally pulled the plug on the current core group of Blueshirts.

Stepan, 27, who was plucked by the Rangers in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, and made his NHL debut during the 2010-11 season, had been a steady presence in the Blueshirts' dressing room for seven seasons and was even named an Alternate Captain a few years ago.

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Ever since his first NHL game, in which he recorded a hat trick against Buffalo on October 9th, 2010, Stepan has been a top-6 forward and often found himself matched up with the opposition's number one center.

A steady 55-60 point guy, Derek was neither a superstar nor a dud. He was simply an above-average player that was often miscast in the leading role. Many people have pointed out that Stepan wasn't the fastest player on the ice, he wasn't the biggest, and he wasn't the best.

New York Rangers: Derek Stepan is Vauable Veteran Presence - bluelinestation.com
New York Rangers: Derek Stepan is Vauable Veteran Presence - bluelinestation.com

What he did have, was an immensely high hockey IQ and the heart of a lion.

This is a guy who once played through a broken jaw in the postseason. Let's not forget about his magnum ornatum. In Game 7 against the Capitals during the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs -- after his team had comeback from a 3-1 series deficit -- the Blueshirts found themselves embroiled in the ultimate high-stakes situation, overtime.

In the win-or-go-home situation, Stepan came up huge with a goal -- from near the left face-off dot with 11:24 having gone by in the period.

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His game-winning tally gave the Blueshirts a 2-1 win and sent them to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

He wasn't the best player on the ice, but in New York, he'll always be remembered as a Ranger.

Antti Raanta gone too

Raanta, 28, who was coming off a 16-8-2 mark with four shutouts this past season, was also included in the trade to Arizona.

In exchange for Stepan and Raanta, the Rangers received Arizona's 2017 first-round draft choice (7th overall) and a young 21-year old right-shot defenseman named Anthony DeAngelo.

DeAngelo has been a superb puck-moving defender during his time in the minors, and that's the good news regarding the former first-round draft selection by Tampa Bay in 2014. DeAngelo's behavior and immaturity have led many to wonder if he'll ever be able to succeed at the NHL level, especially with his prior suspension for abusing an ice official on his record.

Many fans will be wondering, and rightly so, if there is more involved with this deal, because on the surface, it seems that Jeff Gorton got fleeced.

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Word around the league, is that, with approximately $20 million in cap space, and two first-round selections in tonight's Entry Draft, the Rangers are primed to make a splash, by potentially signing UFAs Kevin Shattenkirk and Brendan Smith, as well as trading for a top flight center and a back-up goaltender.

It's going to be one crazy night in Chicago, so fans, buckle up and enjoy the ride!

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