With Ryan McDonagh being available, there should be no shortage of teams interested in his services. I’ve already talked about why Tampa may not be a good trading partner and Joe gave his thoughts about where the McDonagh situation stands as of now. Even though Boston and Tampa have been reported to have the most interest in the captain, there are hurtles to jump over in terms of what each team could offer. Alternatively, I think a team that hasn’t been mentioned much might be the best trading partners for the Rangers: the St. Louis Blues.
St. Louis Could Use The Help
The St. Louis Blues haven’t been tearing up the league the way the Lightning or Knights have, but they’ve still been one of the best teams in the NHL this season. It speaks to the strength of the West that their 72 points only puts them in the first wildcard spot. With the Minnesota Wild, Los Angeles Kings, and Calgary Flames all just a few points back, the Blues might be feeling the pressure to make a move to upgrade their roster. It’s unlikely that they miss the playoffs, but adding a player of McDonagh’s caliber would bolster their playoff spot and Cup contention hopes.
They Need A Left Handed Defenseman
Besides the fact that they might need to make some sort of addition to secure a spot in the postseason, the Blues don’t have a lot of strong left-handed defensemen. Their two top defenseman, Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko, are both righties, forcing each to play on one of the top two pairs while Jay Bouwmeester, Carl Gunnarsson, or Joel Edmundson are forced to log heavier minutes. When you have teams like the Nashville Predators icing a top four of P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm, it’s not ideal to have Jay Bouwmeester on your first pairing. Players like that should not be averaging over 20 minutes a game, and bringing in McDonagh can fix this problem right away. Adding McDonagh will strengthen up the Blues’ defensive group for the playoffs and next year, making it one of the strongest in a very tough Central Division.
They Can Have the Cap Room
The Blues only have about $166K in projected cap space, but at the deadline this year they’ll have a little over a million to play with. It’ll take a little bit of work to get McDonagh’s $4.7 million to fit under the cap but it’s doable. While the Rangers retaining 50% of McDonagh’s salary would bring his cap hit down to a much more manageable $2.35 million (the maximum percentage allowed), it still wouldn’t be enough to work for the Blues. The much more likely scenario is that the Rangers take back Bouwmeester’s contract along with whatever the Blues offer. Since Bouwmeester is set to make $5.4 million for this year and next, getting rid of his contract would give the Blues plenty of room to absorb McDonagh’s salary. Not to mention, if the Rangers do that, they should be getting more value in return as they’re giving St. Louis both a first-pairing defenseman and extra cap room.
They Have the Assets
Of all the teams mentioned to have interest in McDonagh, the Blues might have one very attractive piece that the Rangers might be interested in. Even though he’s been hurt all this year, Robby Fabbri would be a great option for the Rangers. At 22 years old he is still young enough where he fits in with the Rangers’ new direction, yet he’s experienced enough where he can actually play on the roster and develop while the Rangers are rebuilding. The problem with a McDonagh trade is that there’s too much uncertainty in getting picks and young prospects in return, as there’s a large chance that they don’t pan out and the Rangers are left with nothing to show for McDonagh. However, Fabbri is already a somewhat proven NHL talent (66 points in 123 games) and shows a lot of offensive promise. In just the Blues last postseason Fabbri played an integral role to the team, tallying 15 points in only 20 games.
Joe’s Addition: If the Rangers did want to look at other assets out of St. Louis, there’s a plentiful crop there. McDonagh could pry Robert Thomas from them, and Klim Kostin and Jordan Kyrou are guys who have a ton of potential and could be of interest in. Kostin specifically put up similar numbers to Ilya Kovalchuk in Russia at his age, and Kyrou is coming off a dominant World Juniors (10 points in 7 games) and has 88 points in 46 OHL games. St. Louis might be the answer when it comes to this type of a move. End of Joe’s Addition.
Even though there have been a lot of teams interested in McDonagh, the St. Louis Blues might be the best fit.