What are the Rangers going to do at center?

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After trading Derek Stepan to the Coyotes and losing Oscar Lindberg to Vegas at the expansion draft, the Rangers have found themselves with some serious holes down the middle.

On paper, the club’s top two centers are Mika Zibanejadwho still needs a new contract — and Kevin Hayes. J.T. Miller could be relied upon for spot duty. Swedish pivot Lias Andersson, taken seventh overall at last week’s draft, said he wants to make the Rangers this year, but there’s no guarantee he’ll even play in North America this season.

GM Jeff Gorton is aware the position needs an upgrade.

“We know it’s a need,” Gorton said, per Newsday. “We have the luxury of [winger] J.T. Miller, who we feel is a natural center and at some point we’re hoping to make that move, but we’ve had discussions with some teams and some trade scenarios.

“We’ll see where it takes us.”

One avenue that’s becoming less and less enticing is the free agent market. It’s been open for four days now, and some of the best center options available are gone. Joe Thornton re-upped in San Jose, Nick Bonino landed in Nashville and Martin Hanzal signed in Dallas.

Signing any of the remaining UFA centers would be for depth purposes only. Which probably explains why Gorton is gauging the trade market.

It’ll be interesting to see where it takes him. There aren’t many teams with an abundance of talent and/or depth down the middle, but some may be more willing than others to part with it.