NHL Trade Grade: Tampa Bay Lightning steal Ryan McDonagh from Rangers

The Tampa Bay Lightning won the trade deadline by acquiring Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller from the New York Rangers for a cheap price

The Tampa Bay Lightning came into the trade deadline as aggressive buyers. With the New York Rangers being equally aggressive sellers, a trade between the two made sense. The Lightning acquired Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller from the Rangers, giving up a package based more on quantity than quality.

Let’s take a look at how both teams did.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Take a bow, Steve Yzerman. The Lightning general manager solved his blueline depth problem by trading for McDonagh. Trading for Miller basically replaces Vladislav Namestnikov. They’re very similar players, as they’re both pass-first shoot-later players.

Namestnikov is arguably the better of the two, but the difference isn’t that much. Miller should fit great anywhere in the lineup, but on paper, he should be fantastic with Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos.

McDonagh is a legitimate top pairing defenseman. He put up impressive numbers despite being in a broken defensive system in New York. In Tampa Bay, McDonagh should flourish. The scary part? McDonagh is probably their number three defenseman, right behind Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman.

The addition of the Rangers captain allows the Lightning to reunite the deadly pairing. McDonagh will likely form a “second pairing” that will look more like a top pairing. The Lightning have options regarding who they put with him. Whoever they do will be very lucky.

Most importantly, Yzerman pulled this off without giving up Brayden Point or Mikhail Sergachev. Brett Howden has the makeup of a top-nine forward, but with prospects, you can never tell.

Grade: A+. Fantastic job by Yzerman.

New York Rangers

When I initially heard about the trade, I assumed the Lightning would be parting with one of Point and Sergachev. They parted with neither, so that’s not good for the Rangers. Howden is a pretty good prospect, but he’s not a top-tier one. I’m a huge fan of Libor Hajek, but he’s still not a top-tier prospect. Certainly, an intriguing one who should find his way to Broadway at some point, though.

Getting a first-round pick was the bare minimum for giving up both McDonagh and Miller. It becomes two first-round picks if the Lightning win a Stanley Cup within the next two seasons. This seems likely, so you can pencil in the Rangers having at least five first-round picks in the next two NHL drafts.

It’s hard to be excited about this return if you’re a Rangers fan. The return isn’t horrible, but it’s at the very least suboptimal.


Grade: C. Not impressive, just fine. Trading McDonagh and Miller should have gotten far more than “fine”.