Stepan feels ‘like a young guy,’ but will take leadership role with Coyotes

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The Arizona Coyotes have big plans for Derek Stepan — at least while prospects like Dylan Strome and Clayton Keller continue to develop — as the club’s No. 1 center next season.

He’ll begin training camp next month with a Coyotes team that has made some big moves this summer, but is still very young. How young? Stepan is 27 years old, with 515 career regular season games played, and he’s among the oldest forwards in Arizona.

Ten players on their roster are 24 years of age or younger, according to CapFriendly.

Given Stepan’s experience, especially on a playoff team in a big market like New York, is likely valued with an impressionable group of forwards, as well.

“I still feel like a young guy,” Stepan told NHL.com.

“But now I look at the lineup and I think there’s only going to be one guy that’s older than me up front (forward Jamie McGinn, 28), and maybe two or three guys on the back end (defensemen Zbynek Michalek, 34; Alex Goligoski, 32; Niklas Hjalmarsson, 30). It’s definitely a new experience, but something that certainly doesn’t worry me. I’ve been in a leadership role in New York and I’ll just transfer into a new one in Arizona. I couldn’t be more excited.”

The previous leader in their locker room, Shane Doan, was not brought back and is currently a free agent. It’s been reported that Oliver Ekman-Larsson will be named as the new Coyotes captain.