Did the Tampa Bay Lightning just make a big mistake?

The Tampa Bay Lightning chose to trade one of their star defenseman in Ryan McDonagh who had been with the team since midway through the 2017-18 season. The Lightning dealt McDonagh to the Nashville Predators in an apparent salary cap dump to make room to re-sign other notable free agents.

Ryan McDonagh was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning back in 2017 in exchange for Vladislav Namestnikov, Brett Howden, Libor Hájek, a 2018 first-round pick, and a 2019 second-round pick. The Lightning also got J.T. Miller back in return.

McDonagh has been one of the team’s best defensemen the past few seasons. While the star on the blue line might be Victor Hedman, it was guys like McDonagh who helped lead the team to victory by blocking shots every night and doing the little things to win.

During the past three playoff runs for the Lightning, McDonagh blocked 46 shots in their two trips to win the Stanley Cup and an addition 69 in the 23 games in the playoffs this past year.

Before his time in Tampa Bay, he was an integral part of the New York Rangers. Including serving as the captain of the team from 2014-2018. Since his time as captain, the team has not named a replacement for the position.

McDonagh leaves behind the other star of his shutdown pair in Tampa in Erik Cernak. The two created one of the best duos in the league on the blue line. While Hedman was the star, those two were the shutdown pair that they needed to succeed.

Now the Lightning are going to hope that Mikhail Sergachev can potentially fill in the position for the foreseeable future. While it could work, it definitely could lead to a big mistake if Sergachev doesn’t fit in on a shutdown line.

The Lightning might have fixed an issue by trading McDonagh for the salary cap hopes for the future, but they also are risking a lot when it comes to the future success of this team as McDonagh was a huge part of the postseason success for the past few years.

This is the cost of winning, as well as the cost of living in a flat salary cap world.