Speaking of Stepan’s Replacement….
While the Rangers are close to being legitimate top of the class cup contenders, they are missing a crucial piece. A piece much like Derek Stepan, who they just dealt away. New York badly needs a #1 center.
As previously stated, the Rangers could look to deal Anthony DeAngelo to get that top center. Outside of DeAngelo, New York does not boast many assets to work with. Jeff Gorton is not unaware of the concern, luckily:
New York could look to find a center similar to Mika Zibanejad last year, but they do not have a Derick Brassard-type to trade back. None of the free agent options make sense anymore, either.
Realistically, Gorton will have to surprise us with his solution for the top line center. Though signing Jussi Jokinen and letting Jokinen and J.T. Miller figure out who plays at center and who plays at the wing is an option, it’s not a particularly strong one.
Either the Rangers have another trick up their sleeve, or they will rely heavily on Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes. Who plays top line center next season will determine how legitimate of contenders the Rangers really are.