The Lightning were going to end the National Hockey League trade deadline with another defenseman. GM Doug Armstrong has talent to work with, but might not have done enough to change their fortunes. He’ll take some heat, though, for not moving defenceman Mike Green. All four of these players were a part of the Rangers run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014, where they fell to the Kings in five games.
Those are a lot of chips to push in, the most attractive being the 25-year-old Namestnikov, who’s on pace to score 30 goals or so this season and has raised his game with arbitration looming. Defensively, he has been off his game, but then one could say that about the entire Rangers team. There is also legitimate speculation that they will deal captain Ryan McDonagh. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound defenseman leads the team for average time on ice (23:55) and became team captain of the Rangers after Ryan Callahan was traded to Tampa Bay.
“They acquired a great player in Ryan McDonagh”, said Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello.
The Lightning are already in first place in the Eastern Conference and look to be all in for the Cup this year. Tampa Bay can now roll out McDonagh, Victor Hedman, and Anton Stralman as its top three defensemen with Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, Yanni Gourde, Ondrej Palat, and Miller among the players up front. They are focusing instead on building their roster for the future.
Best of all for the Lightning? Adding the 24-year-old Miller, who ranked second on the Rangers with 40 points this year, only makes this group even better. He’s a point-producing, tenacious energy player who can play center and wing.
The biggest loss of the trade for the Bolts this season is Namestnikov.
A tremendous trade for the Lightning that cost them plenty.
In the weeks leading up to the trade deadline, any trade involving the Lightning and either Erik Karlsson or Ryan McDonagh began with Mikhail Sergachev.
When the Rangers announced that they were going into a rebuild that would sacrifice fan favorites, McDonagh seemed to be the guy they were talking about. J.T. Miller is reportedly involved in this trade as well, according to Brian Lawton. Again once mid-afternoon rolled around trades started to pick up. Which, frankly, is quite possible.
The 28-year-old McDonagh, who became the Rangers’ captain in October 2014 after Ryan Callahan was traded to the Lightning for Martin St. Louis, has not played since a 6-1 home loss to Boston on February 7 because of an unspecified upper-body injury.
The Rangers now have 10 picks in June’s draft: three in the first round, two in the second round, two in the third round and one each in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds. McDonagh’s last game as a Ranger was on February 7 against Boston; he’d been out since with an upper-body injury, and injuries have helped cause what has thus far been a disappointing season for McDonagh, who could benefit from shouldering a slightly lesser load with the Lightning – on which he reunites with his longtime defensive partner Dan Girardi, Callahan and Anton Stralman. The 24-year-old center is a restricted free agent after this season.