RALEIGH, NC - DECEMBER 01: Artem Anisimov #42, Brandon Prust #8 and Ryan McDonagh #27 of the New York Rangers celebrate McDonagh's goal against the Carolina Hurricanes during play at the RBC Center on December 1, 2011 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
When the New York Rangers traded for Ryan McDonagh back in 2009 there was obvious excitement. The Rangers relieved themselves of Scott Gomez and his albatross of a contract and acquired a quality prospect to boot (at the time McDonagh was Montreal's top-rated defensive prospect).
McDonagh started last season in the AHL, got called up mid-way through the season and never looked back.
McDonagh played in 40 NHL games last year, compiling a goal and eight assists in his 40 games. Through just 23 games this year he has already topped all three categories, recording career-highs in goals (four), assists (nine) and points (13).
While his numbers in college might not blow you away (18 points in 43 games), he was still a mainstay on point for his Wisconsin Badgers. In the AHL ranks, McDonagh had a goal and seven assists in 38 games. But there was always a tag on McDonagh in terms of the Rangers brass and the coaching staff about his offense: Fantastic shot, good vision but raw, needs to put it all together.
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To be clear, if McDonagh's defense stays the way it is, the Rangers brass wouldn't care if he didn't record a point. McDonagh is one of the stars of a Rangers' defensive corps that has really stepped up in the absence of Marc Staal. Of all the defenseman on the team, McDonagh has made the biggest jump, and he's proving himself.
But the offense is coming.
McDonagh isn't afraid to use his shot from the point, and he has the ability to read the play and see when to pinch and when to fall back. He's also used his vision to his advantage, and is fresh off a two-assist performance in the Rangers' win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
He's shattering expectations on both sides of the puck, and he's a big reason why the Rangers have won 12 of their last 14.