When the Rangers swung a trade that shipped Derek Stepan to Arizona, one would wonder where Stepan’s replacement would come from. However, the Rangers should look no further than the current roster.
The growth of 24 year old Mika Zibanejad will continue if he’s thrown into the spot as the teams top center. Zibanejad was acquired by the Rangers last off-season for many reasons, but one of them was because he is a good two-way player.
Derek Stepan was one of the best two-way players on the team, and was trusted to play against the teams top lines. With this opportunity, Zibanejad could seize this role as his.
Zibanejad was having a great year for the Rangers until he broke his fibula in late November. In the 19 game before his injury, Zibanejad had 15 points.
Consistency was an issue when Zibanejad came back, but he still finished the season with 14 goals and 23 assists for 37 points.
Zibanejad can continue to elevate his game, and will be more familiar with the team in his second year here. If anything, the Rangers should look to sign a bottom six center. The top six is taken care of.