Lightning acquire Ryan McDonagh from Rangers in blockbuster

A very good team gets better, as HC panel analyzes the Tampa Bay Lightning-New York Rangers mega deal, with the Lightning landing J.T. Miller and Ryan McDonagh right at the deadline.

The New York Rangers are in the process of giving the franchise a facelift and Ryan McDonagh is the latest piece to fall.

The defenceman was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning Monday. Along with McDonagh, the Lightning acquired forward J.T. Miller.

The Lightning are sending Vladislav Namestnikov, a 2018 first-round pick, a conditional second-round pick in 2019, defensive prospect Libor Hajek forward prospect Brett Howden.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the conditional second-round pick becomes a first-rounder if the Lightning win the Stanley Cup in either 2018 or 2019.

It’s the second time in the past four years that the Rangers have traded their captain to the Lightning at the trade deadline—in 2014, then-Rangers captain Ryan Callahan was part of the Martin St. Louis trade.

McDonagh has one more year remaining on his contract with a $4.7-million salary cap hit. The 28-year-old had a modified no-trade clause that allowed him to submit a list of 10 teams to which he would not wish to be traded to.

Through 49 games played this season, McDonagh has two goals and 24 assists.

McDonagh was selected 12th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 2007 but has played every game of his NHL career with the Rangers after being dealt to the Blue Shirts in 2009 in a six-player trade.

Miller ranked second on the Rangers with 40 points in 63 games this season, while also bring with him a solid two-way game. The East Palestine, Ohio native has spent his entire 341-game NHL career with the Rangers after being drafted by the team 15th overall in 2011.

Rangers’ team president Glen Sather and general manager Jeff Gorton wrote a letter to fans earlier this month indicating their intention to attain future assets.

“As you know, since the 2005-06 season, we have been a highly competitive team,” the letter read. “We have played 129 playoff games, won the Presidents’ Trophy, reached the Conference Finals three times, as well as the Stanley Cup Final. While we’re proud of all those accomplishments — we didn’t reach our ultimate foal of bringing the Stanley Cup back to New York.

“So as we do every season, we have been continuously evaluating our team, looking for areas that can be improved to enhance our chances of winning. We began the process of reshaping our team this past sumer (sic), when we traded for assets that we believe will help us in the years to come. As we approach the trade deadline later this month and into the summer, we will be focused on adding young, competitive players that combine speed, skill and character. This may mean we lose some familiar faces, guys we all care about and respect. While this is part of the game, it’s never easy. Our promise to you is that our plans will be guided by our singular commitment: ensuring we are building the foundation for our next Stanley Cup contender.”

The Rangers sent Michael Grabner to the New Jersey Devils for a 2018 second-round pick and prospect Yegor Rykov last week as well as shipping Nick Holden to the Bruins. They followed that up by sending Rick Nash to the Boston Bruins for a 2018 first-rounder, forwards Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey, defenceman Ryan Lindgren plus a seventh-round pick in 2019.

Lightning GM Steve Yzerman was tentative to part ways with any roster player but he was willing to let Namestnikov go for a move of this magnitude. The Russian has a career high 20 goals and 44 points in 62 games this season.

Howden and Hajek were the top two Lightning draft picks from 2016 with Howden going in the first (27th overall) and Hajek in the second (37th overall). Howden, a 19-year-old from Oakbank, Man., is enjoying a strong season with the Moose Jaw Warriors in the WHL having registered 58 points in 38 games, while Hajek is a Czech blueliner currently a member of the Regina Pats after being acquired from the Saskatoon Blades in January.

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