One of the defensive pillars of the Tampa Bay Lightning blue line and last three Stanley Cup Finals is gone.
Ryan McDonagh, who transformed the left side of the blue line in Tampa, was dealt to the Nashville Predators for defensemen Phillipe Myers and forward Grant Mismash.
It is always hard to part with a fan favorite and someone who brought it every night, but from a pure business standpoint, Lightning GM Julien BreisBois made the right move.
McDonagh leaves Tampa as the NHL’s all-time leader in blocked shots in the playoff. He was also one of the great lockdown defensemen on this team and an anchor on the PK.
Many businesses and GMs think only of the present and give no thought to the future. Brisebois is ensuring that the Lightning will be set up for success in the future.
With Ondrej Palat an UFA and Mikhail Sergachev due to become an RFA after next season, along with Anthony Cirelli, the Lightning needed to move some salary.
McDonagh is 33 years old, and his best hockey is probably behind him at this point in his career.
Mikhail Sergachev, after a lackluster regular season, took that next step in the playoffs that the Lightning has been waiting to see.
He has become one of the Lightning’s best checkers in the defensive zone and has learned from McDonagh and Hedman the dedication and commitment it takes to be a top defenseman in this league.
He wasn’t perfect, but his play improved significantly over the regular season. Sergachev showed he could be one of the best two-way defensemen in the league.
As the Lightning got deeper into the postseason, Sergachev earned extra minutes on the PK and was also trusted to play more shorthanded minutes than he has in his career.
The Lightning is taking a big gamble and throwing all the cards in on Sergachev, who they will count on to continue to show improvement like he did this postseason.
The trade of McDonagh was nothing more than a salary cap move to set up the Lightning for success next season and beyond.
McDonagh was signed for four more years at 6.75 million per year. That was deemed too expensive to keep him on the roster. Keeping him on the roster would not allow the Lightning to sign some of their up-and-coming young players.
Anthony Cirelli, Erik Cernak, and Sergachev will receive new contracts in the next couple of years. Without trading McDonagh, there would not be enough money to sign Cirelli, Cernak, and Sergachev to new contracts.
Cirelli and Sergachev will count 4.8 million combined against the cap next season in the last year of their contracts. Cernak will count $2.95 million against the cap.
Although the salary cap is $83.5 million this season, there will still be some hard decisions for the front office over the next couple of seasons. M
Alex Killorn, Corey Perry, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, and Brian Elliott will all be unrestricted free agents following the 22-23 season.
–The NHL released its 22-23 schedule, and the Lightning will open up with three games on the road. On October 11th, the Bolts will be in New York to open the season against the Rangers.
The Home Opener will be on October 18th against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The schedule is highlighted by a matchup with the St. Louis Blues on November 25th, the day after Thanksgiving.
The Bolts will also host the Arizona Coyotes on New Year’s Eve.
The Stanley Cup Finals rematch against the Colorado Avalanche will occur on February 9th at Amalie Arena.
The only chance to see Ryan McDonagh in a Nashville Unform will be on November 19th in Nashville. The Predators do not make an appearance in Tampa this season.