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Lightning Round: Tampa Bay reportedly open to trading Ryan McDonagh

Nothing is imminent, but Julien BriseBois is exploring his options

2022 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It’s that time of year, a week before the draft and two weeks before free agency, where rumors are peculating throughout the league in regards to possible trades. Teams are looking to clear some cap space to make a pitch for unrestricted free agents or to offer their own restricted free agents significant raises. Even the Tampa Bay Lightning aren’t immune from the chatter.

Word has circulated that general manager Julien BriseBois has approached McDonagh to see if he would be open to a trade. With his full no-trade clause, the veteran defender has pretty much all the control as to where he may be dealt. Further complicating matters for Mr. BriseBois is that the just turned 33-year-old has four years left on his current deal at $6.75 million per year. It’s not a back-diving contract either. His actually salary is:

2022-23 - $5.46 million

2023-24 - $8.4 million

2024-25 - $6.93 million

2025-26 - $4.2 million

It’s unlikely that McDonagh, who has never missed the playoffs in his career, would be willing to accept a deal to a rebuilding team, so it’ll have to be a contending team that has cap room. A quick look at CapFriendly shows some teams might have the need and the space to take him. The New York Islanders for example. With only three defensemen under contract (and pending RFA Noah Dobson) they definitely need some help on the blue line. They also have about $12 million in cap space with 18 of their 23 roster spots filled. They could probably absorb his contract without the Lightning having to retain too much of the salary.

If they are willing to retain, that may bring other teams into play, like possibly the Minnesota Wild. That might appeal to McDonagh whose home town is St. Paul.

Unlike the Tyler Johnson deal last year, this wouldn’t be a straight salary dump. McDonagh still has plenty left in the tank (even after suffering a “managled finger”) and could still play top-four minutes for the next couple of seasons. While the return wouldn’t be staggering, the Lightning might be able to pull back a mid-round pick or mid-level prospect in the deal.

If McDonagh is moved, Mikhail Sergachev likely moves up to the second pairing and the Bolts would be on the look out for an inexpensive third-pairing defenseman on the free agent market or through another deal. It’s unlikely that they would go internally to fill the position.

Making the move would help Mr. BriseBois sign his three pending free agents (Jan Rutta, Ondrej Palat, and Nick Paul) this season. It could also help out next season when Mikhail Sergachev, Erik Cernak, and Anthony Cirelli will be looking for new deals as RFAs.

The Lightning also don’t have to trade McDonagh. If no deal is to be had, he would line up opposite Erik Cernak like usual and play his standard 22-26 minutes a night. If the team is dead-set on bringing back Palat, Paul, and Rutta there are other ways they can find the space needed for all three.

There will be likely be more rumors circulating around as the summer continues. Should be fun!

Lightning / NHL News

Speaking of free agents. Could a new deal for Nick Paul be closer than we think?

The Lightning released their pre-season schedule for next season. They have six games with back-to-backs against the Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville Predators, and Florida Panthers. Hopefully they don’t also open their season against the Panthers. We’ve seen enough of them over the last few years.

There is at least one member of the organization that is leaving. Derek Lalonde is on his way to the Motor City. The Detroit Red Wings named him the new head coach on Thursday.

The Red Wings weren’t the only team to fill a job posting. The Boston Bruins have reportedly decided on Jim Montgomery as their next head coach.

Well played Nazem Kadri, well played indeed. Shades of Nikita Kucherov sporting his “$18 million over the cap” t-shirt.