Thanks to a technical difficulty that came just as the last trades were coming over the wire (s/o to my renowned Internet provider), yours truly was unable to post about what was Monday’s biggest swap.
That, for those scoring at home, is the Ryan McDonagh trade.
The New York Rangers sent the defenceman and forward J.T. Miller to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Vladislav Namestnikov, a first-round pick for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, a conditional second-round pick for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, prospect Libor Hajek, and prospect Brett Howden.
The Rangers have never been shy when it comes to deadline deals and this marks the second time they’ve moved their captain at zero hour, with Ryan Callahan traded at the deadline in 2014.
But what this trade really speaks to is the road ahead for New York.
Glen Sather and general manager Jeff Gorton penned a letter to Rangers fans early this month and stated their intentions for the future, noting that they were ready to make every effort to add “young, competitive players that combine skill, speed and character.”
Last week, the Rangers sent Michael Grabner to the Devils for a pick and a prospect. They also traded Rick Nash to the Bruins for draft picks, Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey, and Ryan Lindgren.
There is a sense around New York that just about any piece was and will be in play, so there should be some more moves in and around the draft. As of now, the Rangers have 10 picks for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft – including three in the first round.
Namestnikov has 44 points this season, including 20 goals. The 25-year-old will be a restricted free agent this summer.
As for Tampa, adding McDonagh obviously gives them a major boost.
General manager Steve Yzerman was reluctant to part with Namestnikov, but the return seems to justify the swap. It also seems like Tampa may be looking down the road with McDonagh.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to improve our team, to give us the best chance we can to win the Stanley Cup,” Yzerman said. “Ryan has got another year on his contract. We don’t know what happens beyond next year, but he’s currently 28-years-old and has a lot of hockey left in him.”
McDonagh has a six-year deal worth $28.2 million, which carries a $4.7 million a season cap hit. The deal expires in 2018-2019 and carries a modified no-trade clause for the last three years, during which the defenceman can submit a list of 10 teams he won’t accept a trade to.
Tampa is atop the NHL right now and is looking to make a major playoff push and McDonagh will help bolster an already lethal defensive group. In all likelihood, he’ll post up with former Ranger Dan Girardi on the Lightning blueline and should enjoy an easy transition to his new digs.
Miller is also a good piece of the puzzle for Tampa. He has 40 points in 63 games and provides some quality secondary scoring. He was second on the Rangers in points.