The Rangers’ trade of impending UFAs like Rick Nash, Michael Grabner and Nick Holden was all but expected, and the move of captain Ryan McDonagh with one-year left on his deal and impending RFA J.T. Miller means the rebuild is in full swing.
McDonagh and Miller are headed to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a deal according to Elliotte Friedman. The return is as follows:
Libor Hajek, Brett Howden, Nemestnikov, 2018 1st round pick and one other pick, I believe— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 26, 2018
Draft picks in NYR/TB deal. There is a first in 2018 and a second-rounder that becomes a first if TB wins the Stanley Cup this year or next— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 26, 2018
Players in the Return:
Brett Howden was drafted No. 27 overall in the 2016 draft. The 6’2”, 194-pound center has 22 goals and 36 assists for 58 points in 38 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL. He was a point per game player for Canada at the most recent WJC tournament.
Libor Hajek was selected No. 37 overall in the 2017 draft, and the 6’2”, 210-pound defender has 11 goals and 24 assists for 35 points in 52 games in the WHL between the Saskatoon Blades and the Regina Pats of the WHL.
Vladislav Namestikov is 25 and arbitration eligible this season. He scored 20 goals and added 24 assists for 44 points in 62 games, and by all accounts he is having a career year.
What The Rangers Gave Up:
In 49 games played McDonagh has two goals, scored in the same game against the San Jose Sharks, and 24 assists for 26 points. In 63 games played Miller has 13 goals and 27 assists for 40 points.
McDonagh is the center piece of this deal and for more of a contextual look, here’s a look at McDonagh this year vs. McDonagh last year using Bill Comeau’s SKATR comparison tool.
This season McDonagh has played similar to last year with the major difference being an inability to score goals. A cursory look at the rest of the chart shows similarities in performance with the notable difference being a better Rel CF% this year than last year. His Rel xGF% is lower which again is part in parcel with McDonagh’s woes when it comes to scoring goals.
Some of McDonagh’s struggles are likely due to nagging injuries he’s played with for most of the season, and it is notable that he’s been out of the lineup since February 7. This could have been to get him healthy, and also to make sure nothing was aggravated which would have hampered his trade value.
And here’s a look at Miller this year vs. last year using that same tool.
Miller here has seen a decline in goals, but his assist totals are within the same area. Also a slight dip in points, shots and expected goals for. His shooting percentage is also down which explains the decline in goals.
The Lightning are getting a really good defender, and McDonagh will likely be used in a secondary role which makes him even more of a nifty grab. He will join a defense group that already includes Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman and Mikhail Sergachev among others.
Tampa is also getting a good 55 to 60 point forward in Miller who is an RFA, but a year away from unrestricted free agency. His next deal will have to be a multi-year deal or the team risks him going to unrestricted free agency.
No matter how you slice it, this is a major trade for the Rangers. It is fair to say it is almost as major as the seven-player deal McDonagh was involved in on June 30, 2009. The team wanted prospects and picks, and that is the crux of the deal here.
What becomes of them is anyone’s guess. We won’t know until the season is over and how the draft lottery falls. The Rangers could look to move some of these assets and picks in a bundle. It is simply too early to tell.
McDonagh was a warrior for the Rangers and a player who honestly could have shown even more dashes of brilliance had he been paired with a partner who suited him stylistically.
All in all, McDonagh appeared in 516 games tallying 51 goals and 187 assists for 238 points. He additionally suited up for 96 playoff games in which he scored 10 goals and added 31 assists for 41 points averaging 25:43 a game.
Miller appeared in 341 games tallying 72 goals and 100 assists for 172 points. He suited up for 40 playoff games scoring one goal while adding 15 assists for 16 points averaging 14:52 per game.
We will have more on McDonagh and Miller, what they meant to the franchise and a comprehensive analysis of the return at some point soon, so stay tuned.