Wisconsin’s early departures had been contained to its talented defensive corps this offseason, but the offense appears set to take a major hit.
Leading scorer Derek Stepan will sign with the New York Rangers on July 1, the New York Post reported.
As a sophomore, he topped the Badgers’ scoring chart with 54 points in 41 games last season, and he captained the United States to the World Junior Championship title.
Defensemen Cody Goloubef and Brendan Smith both decided to forgo their final seasons at Wisconsin, signing with Columbus and Detroit, respectively.
Those three early departures, plus the graduation of Hobey Baker Award winner Blake Geoffrion and 20-goal scorer Michael Davies, have severely hit the Badgers’ roster after an appearance in the national championship game against Boston College last season.
Also, defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who has been named the Badgers’ captain for next season, should be hearing a push to sign with the Rangers before his senior season, the same New York Post report says.
Stepan is considered a long shot to make the NHL roster next season, according to the report, and could be assigned to the team’s Western Hockey League affiliate in Calgary instead of the AHL affiliate in Hartford.