NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 26: Kevin Hayes

Over the past few seasons, having a “number one center” has been a big problem for the New York Rangers. Let’s take a look at the team’s most recent top centers.

One of the more shocking trades made by the New York Rangers in recent history happened last summer. In late June 2017, New York traded Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Anthony DeAngelo and the seventh overall pick in the 2017 draft (which then became Lias Andersson).

At that moment, the search for a new “number one center” began. Stepan had been on the team since his rookie season beginning in 2010. Soon after, Rangers fans considered him to be the best center on the team.

He put up between 44 and 57 points every year and had consistently solid possession numbers. But, when he was traded, the team had to realize that they were in need of a centerman at his level.

The two players mainly in the conversation for this position were Kevin Hayes and Mika Zibanejad. Did either of these players measure up to Stepan? Will either of them be the Rangers’ “number one center” this year? Let’s take a look.

(All Corsi numbers via Natural Stat Trick)

New York Rangers: The recent history of the number one center slot

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