What the Predators, Lightning get in the Ryan McDonagh trade

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It wasn't the trade the Lightning wanted to make, but one they had to.

That's how Elliotte Freidman framed the rumours around Ryan McDonagh last week, when he wrote about how the team and player were working together on finding the right deal. McDonagh, a solid shutdown top-four defender, held great value to the Lightning and will surely be missed. But, as the team aims to re-sign its UFAs -- and did so with Nick Paul over the weekend -- McDonagh's $6.75 million cap hit became a luxury they could no longer afford.

So, the Lightning found a suitor and McDonagh agreed to waive his no-trade clause for Nashville, who in turn sent back Philippe Myers and Grant Mismash to Tampa Bay.

It was a salary dumping move for the Lightning, who take back $2.55 million on Myers' contract and $842,500 on Mismash, who will likely be an AHLer.

But while the Lightning did free up cap space to try and keep Jan Rutta and Ondrej Palat, it comes at the cost of a solid veteran defenceman.

“He’s one of the best defenders in the NHL — he’s a selfless player and a great leader,” Lightning GM Julien BriseBois said. "Ryan McDonagh is an awesome human being and a great hockey player, and he’s done a lot of winning and he’s helped us do a lot of winning.”

It probably won't be the most exciting trade to be made this week, but there are interesting angles here on both sides.

Here's a look at what each team is getting out of this deal, with help from our scout Jason Bukala:

TO NASHVILLE: RYAN MCDONAGH

A defensive ace for four years in Tampa Bay, you can look at this trade and see a 33-year-old making just shy of $7 million for another four years and wonder if the Lightning got out just in time. But from an on-ice perspective, the Lightning are immediately going to miss average of 22:27 ice time per game, and his team-leading presence on the penalty kill.

“If we didn’t live in a flat salary-cap world, it would never have crossed my mind to ask Ryan McDonagh to waive his no-trade,” BriseBois said on his Sunday, post-trade conference call. “Because I would have been ecstatic to know that I had him under contract for four more years.”

Whatever long-term view you want to take is projecting something far down the road that may or may not happen. The fact is that, right now, the Lightning lose a reliable defender while the Predators pick one up for minimal cost.

The Predators now have three early-30s defenders McDonagh ($6.75M), Roman Josi ($9.059M) and Mattias Ekholm ($6.25M) all signed through at least the next four seasons. They still have about $18 million in cap space this summer and room to re-sign Filip Forsberg. And now this absolutely does not look like a team that's ready to take a step back.

Did the Predators do the Lightning a favour here? In the sense that it lets Tampa out of a tight cap pinch and frees BriseBois to do the other business he wants, sure. But make no mistake: Nashville gets a solid defender here, and that's hard to say no to when the price is such a bargain.

Scout's Analysis from Jason Bukala:

"The Nashville Predators solidify their defence core with the acquisition of Ryan McDonagh. He's a proven winner and leader who eats up north of 20 minutes in ice time every game. His minutes are some of the toughest on a nightly basis, too, always matched up against top-six opponents. He's also a proficient shot-blocker who has physical pushback. The NHL salary cap strikes again! The Preds acquire a fantastic player without subtracting from their lineup."

TO TAMPA BAY: PHILIPPE MYERS, GRANT MISMASH

Myers is the one to focus on here for a couple of reasons.

One is that the initial reaction to the trade came with the expectation that the Lightning could buy out Myers for just one-third of the rate (instead of the usual two-thirds) because of his age (25). Doing that would free up an additional $3.166 million in cap space this season because the Lightning would get a nice bonus credit in 2022-23. That would then leave them with a $633,334 cap hit next season that they otherwise would not have.

Philippe Myers buyout picture, per CapFriendly.

However, BriseBois said the plan was to keep Myers and see if he can develop into a nice little find and be part of Tampa's defence group.

“Our plan at this point is to work with Myers,” BriseBois said. “We’ve liked him going back to his junior days. We really like his toolbox. We like him as a player. He’s only 25 years old, 6-foot-5, with some size, some speed. We’ll work on improving his skating. He’s got a huge shot. I think there’s enough that intrigues us enough to work with him.”

Myers was an undrafted free agent signing by Philadelphia, but arrived with some hype after he was part of Canada's silver medal-winning WJC team in 2017. He was part of Canada's senior men's World Championship team after his second pro season, but hasn't cemented himself as a full-time NHLer.

This season, Myers scored four points in 27 games with the Predators and seven in 16 AHL games with the Toronto Marlies.

One interesting note to consider on Myers is that his coach at QMJHL Rouyn-Noranda, Gilles Bouchard, is an assistant with the Lighting's AHL affiliate in Syracuse. Myers had some of his best years under Bouchard, leading to his NHL signing.

Scout's Analysis from Jason Bukala:

"I'm curious to see how the Philippe Myers scenario plays out in Tampa. Myers has so far not managed to prove he is a full-time NHL defender who can be trusted in a set role. He's a big body defender who shoots right. But what is he? I'm struggling to describe what kind of player Myers actually is at this point in his career. He's not much of a threat offensively. He doesn't play a punishing game despite his stature (6-foot-5, 210 pounds). He doesn't bring enough structure and detail defensively. There was a reason the Predators waived him and then sent him to the Toronto Marlies on loan this past season. Tampa has a massive project on their hands acquiring Myers. He needs to be stripped down and built up again. 

Grant Mismash was a second-round pick of Nashville's in 2017, but this was the left winger's first pro season out of the University of North Dakota. Mismash scored six goals and 12 points in 57 AHL games.

"In Grant Mismash the Lightning acquire a player who hasn't accomplished much at the pro level. In his draft year (2017) he was projected as a point producing forward who plays with grit. I never warmed to Mismash back then and I haven't changed my mind. His college career at North Dakota wasn't elite. The most he produced at the NCAA level was nine goals and 13 assists in his freshman season. Mismash is a solid skater and he DOES have some pushback in his game. I suppose the fact he can play both centre and the wing makes him more attractive as a depth addition for Tampa. I would be surprised to see him pull an NHL jersey over his head next season."

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