Irresponsible Rumormongering

Break Only in Case of Emergency: Potential Ryan McDonagh Trade Destinations

ryan mcdonagh

When I was plugging McDonagh’s name into my trade machine I had to double check that there wasn’t some big error that I didn’t notice. $4.7M a year until 2019? *checks CapFriendly*. Well, I’ll be damned.

(Seriously, Jeff Gorton do not read this.)

But for the sake of a good time (I see you NY Post), let’s explore what a player like McDonagh could fetch in a trade.

First, let’s break down how this whole zany system works:

A few years ago, my Hockey Graphs colleague Matt Cane put together a model for predicting free agent contracts. Matt has since moved on to bigger and better things, but I’ve stolen his model for my purposes.

Basically, the model measures Trade Value by measuring what the model says a player would be worth if he signed a five-year UFA contract right now (any longer and the predictions become too unreliable). There are 2 separate models for forwards and defensemen (read Matt’s post here for an explanation).

The best part of the model is that it’s simple and yet surprisingly accurate. After some tweaks to the importance of the variables, the model was able to predict about 63% of the variance in non-minimum contracts this offseason.

With that as a baseline, I made some key adjustments:

Potential – Based on my own research and another Cane article, a player’s draft slot is a stronger predictor of their production in their first couple years, and then declines pretty significantly by year 5 or so.

For example, in Cane’s model, the #1 pick is worth about $15M over 5 years, just on potential alone, so I reduce the value by 20% each year and add it to the player’s value.

Length and Value of Contract – Even though I value a player for 5 years, most players aren’t signed to contracts that are exactly that long. The trade model includes a “rental” option for players that are signed for less than 5 years, which accounts for their current contract and then adds in a percentage of their predicted market value for the remaining years. In addition, any cap savings for the acquiring team are added to the value of the trade.

Let’s take John Tavares for example. The model predicts Tavares would be worth about $9M a year this summer. A team trading for him with the intention to resign him would have to give up around $45M in value, while a team looking to rent him would have to give up around $27M (the equivalent of a top prospect and a 1st-round pick).

Bad Money – Finally, for players who are paid more than they are worth according to the model, the difference between their actual salary and the predicted one is subtracted from the value.

According to the model, a player like Andrej Sekera is worth about $4.5M less than what the Oilers are paying him for the next 4 years, which means his $16M in trade value gets reduced to about $11M.

Got it? Good. Let’s get trading.

Based on the model, McDonagh is valued at $36M over 5 years, which is crazy because it builds in a pretty hard aging curve for D-men over 30.

Here is the typical return for a player of McDonagh’s value.

In looking at a few potential trades, I tried to prioritize youth, upside and draft picks where possible:

McDonagh to Winnipeg for D Jacob Trouba

Why Winnipeg should do it:

On top of his holdout last year, Trouba has gotten off to a slow start this year with only 9 points through 27 games and his ATOI is down 3 minutes from last year. With Winnipeg leading a wide-open Western Conference, trading for McDonagh may push them over the top.

Why the Rangers should do it:

Although he’s struggled this year, Trouba nearly scored at a 50 point pace last year when he played and is only 23, with a 6’3″ frame and skill to spare. He and Brady Skjei can anchor the blueline for MSG for the next half-decade.

McDonagh and a 1st Rd Pick to Toronto for F William Nylander

Why Toronto should do it:

Losing a young forward like Nylander hurts, but if any team is equipped to withstand his loss, it’s Toronto. Acquiring McDonagh would give Toronto a mean and mobile defense to balance out their forward depth and also maximize their likelihood of winning a cup while Auston Matthews is still on an ELC.

Why the Rangers should do it:

There aren’t many centers in the league who can both drive play and score at a 60 point pace, and even fewer are 21 years old. Nylander won’t come cheap but acquiring him now allows the Rangers to lock him in at the beginning of his prime. For all the readers aghast at trading a first rounder, A. how many 1st rounders have actually panned out recently and B. It was either that or Chytil

McDonagh to Edmonton for F Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto and a 1st Rd Pick

Why Edmonton should do it:

They really don’t have much of a choice. The team was inconceivably built to win now and short of a miracle, may miss the playoffs after coming into the year as dark horse contenders. McDonagh would give them the #1 they thought they were acquiring in Adam Larsson and may salvage Peter Chiarelli’s regime.

Why the Rangers should do it:

Puljujarvi and Yamamoto are both extremely young and have yet to establish themselves in the league. However, both have displayed flashes of brilliance this year and have tons of upside. If they struggle, that will only make the team’s own pick better this year, and if they succeed, then well, the sky is the limit.

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  • All hypothetical of course, but you also need to factor in the replacement possibilities for McD. Do we have a 7th defenseman or one ready to make the jump from the AHL to the big club? If we do, then you can consider it. If you don’t, then you are creating one hole to fill another.

    • Trading McDonagh doesn’t really create a “hole”, if anything it helps clear out the logjam.

      IF McDonagh would be traded, you would have:
      Skjei, Smith, Holden, Staal down the left, Shattenkirk, and Steve Kampfer down the right.

      The problem for the Rangers is that we loaded up on left handed defenseman and only have one NHL level right handed defenseman, sorry Steve Kampfer doesn’t count. So we wind up with average or bad players playing even worse out position (Holden, Smith, Staal) or forcing good players out of their natural position (McDonagh, Skjei).

    • You’re talking about a team that has recently traded Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson, Eberle for Strome…McDonagh would bring back even more than proposed above, neither Puljujarvi nor Yamamoto are established NHL players. McDonagh would instantly be their #1 defenseman, and the best dman to skate for the Oilers since Pronger.

      • I’m not sure I really agree with that. Klefbom is a really good defenseman is I think you underrate him a lot by making this claim.

      • McDonagh would their second D pairing. Klefbom is a much better all around defenseman would start on the first line as a LHD. The other trades you mentioned were expendable parts that we on contracts that did not jive with the direction of future of the team.

  • Trading Mcd is out of the question and after they figure out what needs to happen before they offer him a extension they will announce how they never plan to trade him.

    I think if there was ever a time to trade Zucc than now would be it so for that he might be on the block. As a huge Nash fan since day 1 I must say he could be the other one. A 3c and JT moving up to play with Hayes is hopefully the route that this team is going for. I also hope the that next top piece that comes over through a trade affects Hayes in a positive way. A Nylander addition would look amazing next to Hayes and JT as a 2nd line.

    • Why is it out of the question?

      Overall, forwards are more important than defense man. Any of those last two trades instantly make the Rangers forward group better.

      Nashville had(s) an outstanding defensive group that drives play into the offensive zone, but past 2 maybe 3 forwards lack forwards who can do much with the puck.

      Pittsburg had(s) a mediocre/average defensive group that simple keeps the puck on the forwards stick and lets them own it with forwards past Malkin and Crosby who can put the puck in the net.

      How’d it work out for both teams?

  • Trading McDonagh is blasphemous but I would consider option 1 and 2. Nylander would certainly help to fill in our center issue. So as long as Poink, Graves, Day, and co would be ready sooner rather than later, then I’m listening. But otherwise, no. thank. you. Because I cannot buy in to dressing some combo of smith/staal/holden/kampfer on the back end.

    Any McDonagh trade would have to be a cant miss in order for me to consider it. That said, McDonagh over 30 earning 6-7 million in AAV is less attractive than the player who I am fawning over today. The answer 100% lies in our organizational youth on the blueline and how soon/how well they can fill in.

  • Why are we talking about trading anyone, when things are working? Sure, last night’s game wasn’t perfect. But the Rangers are on a roll. They had major problems finding a groove this season, but now they have found that groove, and they are rocking. Sure, McD has not had his best season, but he shut down Sid pretty good last night, and he is who the rangers have, and will continue to depend on to shut down top players. McD is a key part of the squad. Why can’t we let the teams mesh, grow talent from within, and not have these blockbuster trades and fire sales that have been characteristic of rangers mgmt forever?

    • Because we were “on a roll” last year and were “in a groove”.

      How’d that work out for us?

      Mark Messier was traded. Patrick Roy was traded. Ray Bourque was traded. Chris Cheliios was traded. Brian Leetch was traded. Sergei Zubov was traded. Jaromir Jagr was traded, multiple times.

      In short, whats best for the goals of the organization needs to be done.

  • I would move him now while his value is still extremely high. He’s got a lot of wear and tear on his body due to heavy minutes played. He isn’t winning a Norris like some of you may have thought years ago. He’s has a cap friendly contract which would bring back great assets at this time. He’s not getting any younger. The Rangers can really set themselves up nicely for years to come if they play this smart. A Cup is the goal not just the playoffs. Don’t sell short. Something like the Oilers deal is what such be coming back.

  • Great post Chris. Really good work.

    McD for Trouba. Make it so. And I am not an advocate for trading McD, but Trouba is in an elite class and a young player (maybe AV benches him for Holden).

  • I feel you missed a good one. Sam Reinhart and a buffalo 1st round pick would be the only deal I would make. Reason is buffalo has a struggling team and needs a character leader. Mac fits the bill. I think Reinhart is a excellent center and this draft should be a decent talent pool. Problem i see with this is management. They will draft some worthless kid from sweden and most likely be a center. just joking. In my honest hopes i wish for nothing to happen. We seem to draft well when prepared just not on the fly. so unless this team tanks no trade will happen.

  • This is a fascinating analysis Chris. Well done and thank you for doing it!

    Why are we talking about trading McDonagh? Isn’t he damaged goods that should be recovering from surgery right now? Oh wait….. (sorry, couldn’t resist!). 🙂

    This might sound like a cop out, but to me, the whole “trade McDonagh” question falls into the same category as “trade Kreider, Miller, Grabner or Nash”, or “Fire AV” or “Fire Gorton”. The answer to all of these questions is “sure”—IF in the case of a trade you can upgrade your roster, or if in the case of a coach or manager you can hire someone better. Unless the person in question is just awful (see Ben McAdoo, former Giants coach, as an example), rarely will an organization simply want to get rid of someone in an addition by subtraction maneuver.

    So back to the question of McDonagh. What is he and what does he mean to the Rangers right now? I think almost everyone here makes a valid “pro/con” case. He’s clearly one of the better defenseman in the NHL. But he never became the perrrenial Norris contender we thought he would be after his outstanding 2013-14 season. He is essentially one of the best versions of the old axiom that I have used to describe this team for years now—Good but not great. In his case, I’d say he’s very good. Other than Hank, he’s been our steadiest and most important player for several years now. And, he’s on a terrific team friendly contract.

    All these things make him REALLY important to the Rangers, and that may even be moreso at the moment given the lack of quality with our defensive corps. But it is these same qualities that would make him REALLY important to any team with legit Stanley Cup hopes. Would someone like Edmonton, as was mentioned above, be willing to overpay for him (of course it’s getting to the point where the Oilers may be sellers and not buyers this season)? Or perhaps some other suitor? Quite possibly.

    I think John B and MC nailed it—he is definitely tradeable and can bring back a significant return. I think Hatrick is right to point out the Rangers would have to be overwhelmed to pull the trigger. Richter is right to consider McDonagh for Trouba. All intriguing ideas.

    This all would have been a lot easier to consider if DeAngelo had not been such an enormous disappointment. I’m sure the Rangers acquired him with the idea he would be playing significant minutes with the big club, and of course we all know that he can barely convince his coach to allow him to dress for AHL games. Pionk and Graves don’t appear to be ready, and even when and if they eventually are, they look like 6D/7D types in the short term at least. So can the Rangers really afford to do this right now?

    My hunch is this. Unless the Rangers completely unravel and falll out of the race, they will not consider trading McDonagh at this time. If they do fall out of it, they deal him in a “Yandle-esque” kind of trade for a hefty return. If they stay in it, then he could be dealt this summer. Or perhaps at the deadline next season in a “Cally-esque” kind of deal that yields another asset that would be around a little longer.

    The reality is that, most likely, McDonagh is going to want to get his big payday after giving the club a favorable deal. Minnesota or Chicago could be a likely landing spot for him down the road. The Rangers may very well have to consider dealing him for cap purposes alone. The question is, when and for whom?

    Great topic!

  • Whether or not to trade (X, Y, or Z) is a perennial question on these blogs. and the answers are really very simple: YES, if the trade improves the team, or NO, if it doesn’t. Nothing else matters, money considerations are determined by cap space and the team’s willingness to spend (and, say what you want about Dolan, he isn’t cheap). Valuing the assets is another story. We, like fans of every team, generally tend to overvalue our own players, and undervalue those of potential trading partners. We also have no, nada, zilch, zip, knowledge of the thought processes in the minds of potential trade partners. Trades (and draft picks) that look like no brainers at first sometimes end up looking like the person responsible literally had no brains. Others, that seemed too minor for any interest, end up changing the trajectory of a team’s success. So, unless we actually know something that the management and scouting staff doesn’t (highly unlikely), all we’re doing is playing mind games.

  • No to these trades, but not to trading McD… no one is untouchable. But,,, to trade McD it has to be for “the One” and Nylander and Troubadour aren’t that. They’re not good enough NOW to make us a Cup contender, and this whole construct depends on them DEVELOPING into the Difference as we somehow grow around them.

    The trade I make is McD and Whatever else it takes for a 75-90 point guy NOW. Whatever. It. Takes. Because, remember, Cups require great goalies, and ours is there NOW, not THEN. Maybe Shesty comes and he is the Tsar. I’d like to find out NOW. But to trade our best D, even if he may be damaged a bit (he sure came back looking a lot better after his ab strain break, though he couldn’t control the puck for shinola last night) for anything less than Mr. Big doesn’t work for me.

    So, because of the Cap this probably doesn’t happen this year. but, in the offseason, McD & a forward for Superstar X and a serviceable D. Nash off the books helps with cap space next year.

  • Yes to the Nylander trade. In fact, I might say yes to all 3. Nylander is the only one that would definitely make the team better now. But I am not a win now guy. Still, that kid can play.

    Yes, McD is very good and has been a great team guy, But with a big raise looming you either trade now and maximize the return or you recognize that his trade value will start to diminish very soon as the end of his contract approaches. Such is life in the NHL under the salary cap.

  • Hypothetical trades are so much fun. Then reality sets in, it actually take two (or more) to actually make a trade.

    That said, I am in favor of trading anyone on this mediocre team as long as it improves us. And yep that definitely includes McD.

    I’m still not sold on our recent winning ways. Most all of the teams we beat were bad or at best inconsistent teams, relax I said MOST.
    We also played an inordinate amount of home games, with a favorable playing schedule. And until recently 100% healthy. Reality lurks right around the corner.

    We, again hypothetically, could be set up for an extremely bright future with the haul we could get fro Nash, Grabs, Zucc and McD, in picks and young players. Make no mistake about it, I LOVE Nash, Zucc and McD (McD as a player not a captain) but barely making the playoffs, not a given, and a first or at best second round ouster do not appeal to me.

    With the confluence of a very deep draft, and Nash & Grabs, both quality players, going to be UFA, if we ever hope to get a real generational player, this boys and girls is the year.
    All it takes is Gorton to show he has the b__s, umm guts to do it.

  • Gave a thumbs up for overall effort, tho I reserve right to disagree on any specific pt mentioned.

    McD should be traded NOW b’c only reasons to trade are risk he can not be affordably re-signed, and even if that happened, return would be max now b’c acquiring team would be paying more to have greater production now.

    Of course, he should NOT be traded for the sake of trading only. Acquiring team has to overpay for rental + w/first dibs to extend.

    Of what was listed, forget Trouba. Jets not dealing him.
    MAYBE that changes as they approach end of contract and he can force himself on market. THEN, he becomes the rental + if Jets can not extend and choose to not lose him for nothing.

    Oiler deal. Pul + 1st is max they would pay UNLESS a lot of competitive bids forces price artificially higher than typical. Yama is interesting but I do not want him to be a guy we accept as significant valued payment or in lieu of preferable asset(s). Extremely talented, yes. But odds are huge against smaller guys in NHL. For every Patrick Kane that can climb the mountain, there are hundreds of Christian Thomas types. No discrimination. If a guy like Zuc shows up as a free agent in camp, wins a 2 way contract on a deal, proves he deserves to stay, no NMC, he is welcome on my team. But I don’t want a small guy otherwise due to risk. Proven sports adage proves rule – not to say there are not exceptions to the rule, but it is a reliable rule – in all sports, usually the good big man beats the good little man [all the more so if all things are equal].

    Nylander I would do, but Leafs would not. Also, this is not the year to give up 1sts. Would prefer if some variation of that deal, we gave up 1st in 2020

    Here is the best deal I came up w/so far:
    Sens NEED partner for Karlsen. McD fits and would also be cheaper top LD than other options. Budget team needs to have flexibility going forward.

    Fair value IMO is
    McD + Lias Andersson
    LD Chalbot + Paget

    it is possible to add a small cap dump.
    It is also possible that Sens may want a bit more than = value
    cap dif is close and it may be addressed if this deal turns into a larger package

    why Sens:
    McD-K. pairing; Andersson can be here asap this year, and start on 3rd/4th line
    pivot behind Duchene + Brassard; elc for elc; $ and ages are close. NY likely to give small add, and this is solid deal for now, builds pivot in future at cost of LD depth but can still recover

    why NY
    get replacement for LD going forward; Chytil replaces Andersson going forward; Paget helps w/pivot now.

    feel free to spread that around, just credit it came from yours truly, bernmeister

    • This would be a terrible deal for the Rangers. Take out Andersson and replace him with Graves and then maybe you have a starting point.

  • Reasons to be cheerful:

    Just saw that in 20 games with Frolunda Lias Andersson has 7 goals and 13 assists as a 19 year old in Sweden’s top league.

    18 year old Filip Chytil has 5 goals and 12 assists in 15 games with Hartford. ?

    • You should re-read the article since your numbers are wrong.

      Andersson leads a high-powered Swedish roster looking to improve on its fourth-place finish at last year’s tournament. The seventh overall pick from last year’s draft is having his best season in the Swedish Hockey League thus far with Frolunda, where he has seven goals and six assists for 13 points in just 20 games. His previous career-highs came last year when he had nine goals and 10 assists for 19 points in 42 games with HV71.

      Chytil, meanwhile, is expected to represent the Czech Republic at the World Juniors for the first time. The 18-year-old is having a strong first season as a pro in North America with five goals and seven assists for 12 points in 15 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League.

  • An LA buddy propped this:
    Thornton, Braun and Heed for McDonagh, Nash and a prospect

    Logic” Sharks could use another winger, Nash a lot younger than Thornton, could be resigned for a lot less money. He LOVES McD, Braun solid D, some Offense. Heed a decent RHD. Gives us the Center we need for run, and TWO RHD, which we really need- Heed NHL ready unlike ADA.

    Would either team do this trade?? Does anyone out there believe in Rick Nash for a playoff run?? Also…trade is across country, not in division or conference.

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