When the New York Rangers made the decision of changing from John Tortorella's grinding, offensively restricting system to Alain Vigneault's more high tempo, possession driven game most fans and analysts said that this would be a big boost for young Ryan McDonagh, a very good defenseman who's offensive game was stymied by Tort's reluctance to have his defensemen join the rush and contribute to the offense.
Needless to say, the young Minnesota native thrived under Vigneault putting up career highs in all offensive categories (14 G 29 A 43 Pts). McDonagh did this while playing close to 28 minutes a night while going up against a team's stiffest competition (As well as dragging around Dan Girardi most of the time) and while most Rangers fans would be quick to extol the virtues of McDonagh to any who asked, it was this season that saw the 24-year-old defenseman get a lot of national recognition with his play in the 2014 Sochi Olympics
American Bright Side
While the United States Men's Hockey Team had a less than stellar Olympic tournament, one of the stand out positive aspects was the praise that McDonagh received from the coaching staff, press and fans that haven't been following the Rangers the past couple of years.
Playing on his off side and paired with Ryan Suter, McDonagh gave the US team one solid defensive pairing and they did their damndest to shut down what were basically all star teams and McDonagh's play opened a lot of eyes as to how good he really was and was going to be.
While the United States did finish out of the medal running, McDonagh continued his strong play from the Olympics into the 2nd half of the regular season until he was shelved for the last five games of the season by a shoulder injury suffered at the end of a game against the Vancouver Canucks.
After taking the last four games of the regular season off, McDonagh got right back into the line up as the Rangers started their first round series with the Philadelphia Flyers. And while it was obvious that he was trying to find his legs after missing some time, McDonagh adjusted his play and got his stride and positioning back in time to have a positive impact throughout the Rangers deep run. It got to the point where he was a major catalyst against the team that originally drafted him in the Montreal Canadiens (Thanks again Bob Gainey).
McDonagh is signed for the next five years at a 4.7 million dollar cap hit. Just to put that into context, Nikita Nikitin signed for two years at 4.5 million per year to play the third pairing for the Edmonton Oilers. This continues to be probably Glen Sather's greatest contract signing and one of the best value contracts in the NHL today