Tampa Bay Lightning extend defenseman Ryan McDonagh to a seven-year contract

After acquiring McDonagh from the New York Rangers, the Lightning have extended him to a long-term deal.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed Ryan McDonagh to a seven-year contract extension with an average annual value of $6.75 million. McDonagh was acquired at the trade deadline from the New York Rangers along with J.T. Miller in exchange for Vladislav Namestnikov, Brett Howden, Libor Hajek, a 2018 first round pick, and a 2019 conditional second round pick. The conditional pick will become a 2019 first round pick if the Lightning win the Stanley Cup in 2018-19.

As reported by Joe Smith of The Athletic, the contract will carry a full No Trade Clause until January 2026, meaning he’ll have that protection for all but the last year and a half of the contract.

This seven-year contract will beging with the 2019-20 season. He will turn 37 just after the last season of the contract ends. His $6.75 million cap hit is similar to contracts given to Mark Giordano with the Calgary Flames ($6.75 million, six years) and Cam Fowler ($6.5 million, eight years) with the Anaheim Ducks. McDonagh will be paid like a top pairing defenseman that puts up 30-35 points a year.

Besides the length of the deal, one problem that I have is that I don’t expect him to continue putting up the same level of points that he has been over recent years. With Victor Hedman and Mikhail Sergachev quarterbacking both power play units, there’s little room for McDonagh to rack up points on special teams. He’ll be reliant on even-strength point production almost exclusively. Since 2013-14, McDonagh has averaged four goals and 17 assists at even strength for 21 points. While some  may point to the fact that the Lightning have high-powered offensive forwards to supplement his point production, sadly the New York Rangers also had a high-powered offense.

The term of the contract, on top of McDonagh already having a year left on his current contract, means that there is a lot of potential for him to regress as he gets into his 30s. In the meantime though, it will mean that the Lightning will have a very strong top three on their blue line for the next 3-4 years. It also helps to answer a problem the Lightning would be facing next summer when McDonagh, Anton Stralman, Dan Girardi, and Braydon Coburn were all set to be unrestricted free agents.

In the short term, this will be good for the team. However, I think there are legitimate questions about how this contract will age over the last few years of the deal.