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Will Ryan McDonagh Really Be Traded? If So, Then Where?

Ryan McDonagh

Chris O’Meara/AP

Ryan McDonagh
(Photo by Chris O’Meara/AP)

Ryan McDonagh Reportedly on the Trade Block

Ryan McDonagh has quite the offseason ahead. It appears that Tampa Bay’s deal with the devil is starting to catch up with them, as the former Rangers captain could be the first victim of their cap crunch. While it would be a tough goodbye, they do have two Stanley Cups to show for it. Elliotte Friedman reported that the Lightning are looking for an amicable trade for the 33-year-old. It should hardly be a surprise with key players staring at free agency.

A Pretty Clear Reason Why

Ondrej Palat is gonna get paid this summer. For so many years, the winger has been overlooked with Tampa’s historically good group of forwards. However, he showed during this postseason why he is one of the most underrated playoff performers ever. Nick Paul and Jan Rutta are also out of a contract. The pair proved to be crucial depth pieces as the Bolts nearly won a third straight cup. If Tampa wants a chance to keep this window open, keeping Palat, as well as quality supporting pieces, are both priorities.

Out of the excellent trio of Victor Hedman, Mikhail Sergachev, and McDonagh, the American appears to be the most expendable of the three in GM Julien BriseBois’ eyes. McDonagh and his $27 million salary over the next four years now appear to be the most likely subtraction. A potential trade includes two questions: where, and whether the entire contract will be moved? McDonagh is still an excellent hockey player. However, he’s not getting any younger. And the wear and tear of three straight Cup Finals runs will add an extra season’s worth of mileage. There will be suitors, but also a risk of needing to absorb some of the $6.75 million cap hit to get a deal done. McDonagh also has a full no-trade clause, so he can dictate where his next destination will be. What are some potential fits?

The New York Rangers

A reunion at MSG could be on the cards. The Rangers currently have a shade under $12 million in cap space. They also have three buyout cap hits expiring in 2023 (for roughly over $3 million). Depending on the return and financials, a trade is certainly possible. However, the Rangers also have their own needs to fill in free agency. A handful of their young guns, notably Filip Chytil and K’Andre Miller, need long-term extensions. Both Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp are set to hit the open market. While they reportedly do have interest in Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois, the Rangers have to figure out their future down the middle. Regardless, their former captain would make an excellent fit on the left-hand side of their defense.

The New York Islanders

Spare me the homer comments. McDonagh to the Islanders does make sense on paper. One of their biggest needs this offseason is a quality left-handed defender. Look no further than one of the guys they went to war against in two straight years. He’s great in both ends, has a tremendous amount of playoff experience, and would complement Noah Dobson to a tee. If Lou can convince the Bolts to withhold some salary, I would not say no to a McDonagh trade. However, it’s possible Ryan may say no, as his recent playoff battles and Ranger loyalties could play a factor here.

Minnesota Wild

This may seem out of leftfield, but there are certainly links as McDonagh is a Minnesota native. The Wild knocked over their first big domino of the offseason by dealing Kevin Fiala to the Kings. With a little less than $6 million in cap space, they could acquire McDonagh if they send a replacement along with the likes of Jon Merrill or Alex Goligoski in return. Trading Matt Dumba could potentially be a side-effect of this as well, as he is a free agent in 2023.

However, things get slippery when you see their cap sheet and other needs to fill. The Wild are swallowing an absolutely enormous pill with the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter buyouts. They also need to find a new goaltender after the Marc-Andre Fleury experiment failed. Furthermore, they need more forward depth after losing Fiala. Both teams are in dire financial straits, so it would take some salary-cap tightrope walking. However, a McDonagh trade to his hometown team is not completely impossible.

As if there weren’t enough big names who could be on the move this summer. Alex Debrincat, Evgeni Malkin, Jakob Chychrun, JT Miller, David Pastrnak, and now Ryan McDonagh. The team winning these sweepstakes will get a player who is still incredibly good and could offer invaluable experience to those who want to win. If you’re Tampa Bay, it sucks, but this is what you signed up for.


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