This is one of those trades that will be a good bit more than Ryan McDonagh. The New York Rangers captain was traded to Tampa Bay.
To Tampa Bay: Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller
To NY Rangers: 2018 1st round picks, conditional 2019 2nd round pick (becomes a 1st if the Lightning win the Stanley Cup this year or next), Vladislav Namestnikov, Libor Hajek, and Brett Howden.
Today, the main pieces are looked at. The prospects will be examined closer to the draft.
What Ryan McDonagh Means To Tampa
Jon Cooper can use a defensive player who can play top shutdown minutes. Consider the depth and balance which Toronto and Boston have and this makes sense. McDonagh can easily play 22-23 minutes a night and contribute a little offensively.
Tampa Bay now has that defensive corps that can shut teams down while being able to move the puck up the ice as well. Mobile defensemen are key in the playoffs because the quality of competition ramps up. Intensity spikes as well and McDonagh has been in enough playoff battles to help this Tampa team.
The Minuses Of McDonagh
There are concerns. McDonagh has had a sub-par season. Some argue that is because a few of his close friends were shipped out. Others suggest that injuries have taken their toll. Yes, the defenseman has been banged up (including a shoulder issue). However, New York held him out so he could fully heal. That was important.
Goal scoring and the power play have never been among McDonagh’s strong points. He was decent enough but there is no blazing slap shot there. McDonagh’s puck movement also dropped and he started to lose more battles in the corners than usual. Why was that? Maybe, it was a feeling of trying to plug holes on a sinking ship. He could not do it all. There is another theory. Being the captain of the New York Rangers was too much for him to handle along with the on-ice responsibilities. Nobody truly knows that answer but things definitely weighed on McDonagh. That impacted his season.
The Pluses Of McDonagh
Again, this is a player who has played 96 playoff games and has not missed the playoffs. He has a respectable 41 points and ten goals. McDonagh can play 25 minutes a night in the playoffs and log time against the toughest of competition. A lot of defensive burden has been placed on his shoulders and he was able to handle this well.
He is normally physical enough and knows when and when not to block shots. Playoff averages are around 2.3 hits and blocks a night. This gives Jon Cooper the option to balance minutes between Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman, and McDonagh to maximize his defense. There is zero need to offensively shelter the defender here.
Expect McDonagh to take on significant penalty kill minutes. He may not have to play every single penalty kill anymore but can if needed. Offensive production is not something expected. An assist about every other game is reasonable. Maybe a goal and nine or ten assists. His shot average should stay around 1.5 a night while hits and blocks may tick up.
Scheme-wise, nothing has to be adjusted for McDonagh. With Dan Girardi in Tampa already, the defenseman should get up to speed quickly. Mikhail Sergachev can still be sheltered for maximum offense and Anton Stralman will get a bit more freedom also.
This was not the only part of the trade as J.T. Miller was acquired from New York.
What J.T. Miller Brings To Tampa Bay
Miller brings speed and play-making ability to the Tampa lineup. He also has 50 point potential and versatility. The forward can play anywhere in the top nine. Miller has 20 goal, 35-40 assist potential as well. This year has been a bit of a struggle. However, he tends to play well with linemates and creates at above-average levels. The only dilemma is shooting. Miller does not shoot a lot. He basically hits the net 1.5 times a contest.
The question will be where does he wind up in the top-nine for Tampa Bay. He can play anywhere and even was starting to see increased power play time (six goals). Gradually, his ice time was ticking upward and enjoyed a 54.2% on face-off wins. His speed and ability to move the puck are major assets.
Projecting numbers in Tampa may be a little tougher as he could play on center or wing. There is also the question if Miller will see power play time. Right now, he may be viewed as more of a depth option. However, with the way Jon Cooper likes to shift lines, Miller could play with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.
What Vladislav Namestnikov Means To New York
Namestnikov offers a lot to an offense. He can be enigmatic in production but plays a complement to top forwards. The center also can be positioned on the wing a lot like J.T. Miller. However, there are a few things the 25-year-old can do better.
One is shoot the puck. Namestnikov’s shooting arc keeps inching upward. Each season there has been a steady rise. This is the first year that he has played true top-six minutes. There have been some struggles but the forward has handled the 17+ minute load well. Namestnikov hits the net over 2.3 times a night and generates a high amount of scoring chances per 60.
His shot is above average and one of the reasons he was on pace for 25 goals. There is a nose for the net that the forward possesses. He is not afraid to go to the middle of the ice where the prime chances are. The main concern is that he can disappear in games. Chances of struggling for stretches, like with Miller, can be moderate.
Namestnikov can easily play top-six and top power play minutes with the Rangers. The only question is how Alain Vigenault and the coaching staff deploy him. The forward probably will not be starting in the offensive zone 60% of the time anymore. He has gradually become more responsible defensively which is a plus. This is because New York does play on their heels a bit too often.
He could end up with 12-15 points plus for the Rangers depending on the ice time and a half dozen goals. Expect him to shoot a bit more as well.