Photo Courtesy of NY Post
After a blockbuster trade between these two teams questions still loom. The Rangers got some good pieces, but was it enough? Does this trade make the Lightning Stanley Cup favorites?
By: Chris Yackel
The New York Rangers cemented on Monday’s Trade Deadline that they are not liars. They are indeed in a full tear down rebuild. The Lightning on the other hand have cemented themselves as not only the team to beat in the Eastern Conference, but perhaps the entire NHL. Two teams that are going down two entirely different paths made a blockbuster trade on Monday. The Lightning did it for winning now, meanwhile the Rangers had their future in mind in this deal.
The deal, now former Rangers captain, Defenseman Ryan McDonagh, as well forward J.T. Miller, were dealt to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for forward Vladislav Namestnikov, forward prospect Brett Howden, defensemen prospect Libor Hajek, a 2018 first round pick and a conditional second round pick. The condition being if the Lightning win the Stanley Cup either this year or next, then that second round pick will turn into a first for the Rangers.
Tampa Bay Lightning
For the Lightning if they weren’t already the favorite to win the Stanley Cup then this move certainly makes them the odds on favorite to Lord Stanley. They bolster their defense that already has the likes of Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman and Mikhail Sergachev, with a leader, playoff experienced, warrior like Ryan McDonagh. McDonagh who is 28 is still smack in the middle of his prime and has a lot to offer as he is an elite defenseman that you can match up against a team’s top line if need be.
A fresh start in the sunshine and palm trees certainly will help rejuvenate McDonagh, who has one-year remaining on his deal after this season will have plenty of time to get acclimated to Tampa. Help from former teammates Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi and Anton Stralman won’t hurt his adjustment either.
Also in the deal for the Lightning is 24-year-old forward J.T. Miller. Miller who has 43 points this season and was second for the Rangers in scoring will add even more depth to the Lightning’s already deep lineup. Miller is a skilled, forward that possesses great playmaking ability and can skate really well. He also is an extremely physical presence as Miller is not afraid to throw his body around and always finishes checks. He will be great for the Lightning for many years to come. He is however, a restricted free agent this summer, as it will be interesting to see where those contract negotiations go.
New York Rangers
For the New York Rangers, this trade means that management meant every single word they said in a letter to fans addressing the organizations future last month. They get a great young skilled forward in Vladislav Namestnikov. Namestnikov made a good first impression in his Rangers debut as he contributed both a goal and an assist in last nights 6-5 Overtime victory in Vancouver. One has to wonder though how much Namestnikov’s production will decrease in New York as he will not play on the same line as Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov anymore.
The Rangers also acquired a first round pick and a conditional second round pick that can become a first. That is something the Rangers need in their rebuild is draft picks as stock piling them like they are always is a good thing.
New York now hold three first round picks in the 2018 NHL Draft. The Rangers also acquired to prospects. First is forward Brett Howden who was the Lightning’s first round selection (27th Overall) in the 2016 draft. He is currently playing in the Western Hockey League for the Moose Jaw Warriors. The other is second prospect is defenseman Libor Hajek who is a 2016 second round pick (37th Overall) who is currently playing in the Western Hockey League for the Regina Pats. Both of these players represented their home countries in the World Junior Championships this past January as Howden won a Gold Medal for Canada, meanwhile Hajek represented the Czech Republic.
This deal was an absolute win for the Tampa Bay Lighting. The Rangers on the other hands could have done a lot better in this trade. The return that they got would be great if it was for McDonagh alone, but add Miller and the Rangers should be getting a lot more out of this trade.
If the Rangers were able to get either Mikhail Sergachev or Brayden Point this trade would look a lot better, but what the Rangers got wasn’t enough. Howden and Hajek aren’t even considered to be the Lightning’s “A level” prospects.
Factor in that the two picks even if the conditional second rounder turns into a first rounder, the Rangers will be drafting at the end of the first round. It is extremely hard to find franchise changing talent that late. That makes the trade all that much worse for the Rangers, as their rebuild in my opinion is not off to a great start.
The Lightning on the other hand only lose one player off of their roster and are able to keep both Sergachev and Point. When you also factor in they control Ryan McDonagh beyond this year at a cap hit of only $4.7 million then this trade just keeps getting better and better for Tampa. Adding a young rising player like J.T. Miller also is a win for the Lighting. Miller will thrive in Tampa with better linemates and will likely produce even more.
Overall, this trade is very much a win for the Tampa Bay Lightning as GM Steve Yzerman looks like he has committed robbery on the New York Rangers, who for now look like they are not going to be the victors of this trade.
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