Following the Rangers pre-draft blockbuster with the Arizona Coyotes, a huge question still needs to be answered. Who will replace Derek Stepan as the Rangers 1C? Although the solution could come from many different sources, I think the answer comes from free agency.
The market this season is moderately thin at the center position, but there is an option the Rangers could explore. Joe Thornton has been one of the NHL’s premier playmakers throughout his career. He is the biggest free agent name this season and don’t be surprised if the Rangers bring in the aging forward.
The 37 year old had an unspectacular season by his standard: scoring 7 goals and putting up 43 assists for 50 points in 79 games. After the end of his postseason run, it was announced that Thornton was playing on a torn ACL and MCL, a ridiculous feat of toughness and dedication to his teammates. Honestly, signing Joe Thornton would be the most Rangers thing the Rangers could do.
Thornton is in the twilight of his career, however, he remains productive. The Rangers have set the precedent that they are more than willing to sign the aging vet and allow him rather than let a young player work his way up the lineup. I do not believe that signing Thornton is the Rangers’ best move, but it does seem the most likely.