Back in August, we explored the possibility of the Rangers trading Ryan McDonagh. The comments section is kind of funny, but at the time of the post there were already “rumblings” that the Rangers had a deal for him with Edmonton at the 2016 draft. The deal had the #4 pick heading to New York. It’s something Elliotte Friedman confirmed a week ago. Then in December, Chris Watkins wrote about what McDonagh could possibly fetch in a trade.
With the news that the Rangers are all but guaranteed to be sellers, it’s time to revisit the situation. For the Rangers, McDonagh is their most valuable piece in a trade, certain to bring back a haul. From a business perspective, it makes sense as well. McDonagh’s deal expires at the end of next season, when he will be 30 years old and due for a big time deal, roughly around six years and $6.5 million. For a team that needs to avoid bad deals, McDonagh’s deal would be bad, even if he is one of our (my) favorite Rangers.
Any acquiring team would be getting a full season and a pair of playoff runs with McDonagh at just $4.7 million. Teams in need of a top pairing defenseman to solidify their playoff rosters will be licking their chops to land him.
The most recent trade of a defenseman near his caliber is the Keith Yandle trade. The Rangers sent John Moore, Anthony Duclair, a first rounder, and a second rounder for Yandle, Chris Summers, and a 4th round pick. Essentially the trade was a young roster player, a top prospect, and two top picks for Yandle, an AHLer, and a mid-round pick. That’s our baseline to go from. There’s some flexibility here, as Duclair was easily more valuable than Moore. The better the NHL talent coming, the less you can expect to see in a return.
Examining Chris’ post more, he mentioned three potential landing spots for McDonagh: Winnipeg for Jacob Trouba, Toronto for William Nylander, and Edmonton for a pair of top prospects. Chris’ trade machine is accurate, however I think it does underestimate McDoangh’s value. After all, his trade machine is based on logic, and we’ve seen time and time again that some NHL GMs don’t have that trait.
Using the Yandle trade as a baseline, while keeping Chris’ predictions in our mind, we can reasonably guess how much McDonagh will fetch. As for the trading partner, let’s dive into this a little deeper. For the sake of the post, let’s assume McDonagh isn’t going anywhere in the Metro Division. Worth noting that Chris’ trade machine picks out three very good fits for McDonagh, although I can’t really see Edmonton making a buy-now move.
Looking at Toronto first, I find it hard to believe Nylander will be focal point. Mitch Marner, however, could be. A right-handed shot on the wing would look good next to Filip Chytil or Lias Andersson. The problem with the Leafs is their precarious cap situation. Assuming bodies and cap hits can be worked out, we could feasibly see McDonagh in Toronto for a Marner package. Taking a shot in the dark here, perhaps something like McDonagh and a mid-rounder to Toronto for Marner, a 2nd, and a lower prospect? Might be doable.
Assuming the Jets still want to part ways with Trouba, I can see something like this happening (Update: He’s now hurt, so that throws a wrench into the Trouba thing). There are no cap issues with Winnipeg either. Like with Marner, I can’t see this being a one-for-one swap. I know it’s kind of a cop out, but I can see the above situation playing out here too, with a 2nd rounder and a lower prospect coming with Trouba and a mid-rounder or a lesser prospect (Ryan Gropp?) heading the other way.
The funny part here is that Vegas might be a team intrigued by McDonagh. Simply put, they are not a good team on defense, and have been relying on scoring and Marc-Andre Fleury the whole year. Vegas actually fits what would be the “Yandle” model here, as it looks like the Rangers would need to take a lesser roster defenseman back to make space on the Vegas blue line. Colin Miller seems to be the odd man out there. However the Vegas prospect pipeline, as expected, is very thin. They have three first rounders from last year (Erik Brannstrom, Nick Suzuki, Cody Glass) that the Rangers would want to choose from. Then to add another first rounder could potentially cripple an expansion team’s farm. I can see Vegas needing a McDonagh-type guy, but I’m unsure if they’d pull the trigger.
I do see Dallas as a dark horse though. A McDonagh-John Klingberg pairing would be lethal in the West, and boy could Dallas use another defenseman. I don’t see them parting with Miro Heiskanen, but if they don’t then I can’t see this deal getting done. Dallas’ system is bare and they don’t have many young roster players.
There might also be a fit with Nashville, with Eeli Tolvanen coming back the other way. Nashville is in their window to win, and has both the cap and the roster space to make this work.
I’m sure there’s a team I missed as well. It’s going to be an interesting few weeks leading up to the deadline. However this McDonagh trade, if it happens, is the biggest moment in Jeff Gorton’s history with the Blueshirts. This is one trade that he cannot botch."Exploring the trade value and possible destinations for Ryan McDonagh",