If the New York Islanders want to address their needs on defense through trade they should look no further than the New York Rangers and their captain Ryan McDonagh.
The New York Islanders have a single need to address at the coming trade deadline. Defense. They need help on the blueline and quick. They’re second in the league in goals for, but lead the league in goals against.
Simple math will tell you if they fix the latter they’d be in a much better position in the standings. If they could get a solid top-four defender to help keep pucks out of the net that would make a world of a difference.
If that defenseman was reportedly available leading up to the trade deadline, the New York Islanders would be silly not to pursue the possibility.
But what if that defenseman was the current captain of the New York Rangers Ryan McDonagh? The Islanders hated cross-river rival. A rival that the Islanders have made but two trades with, ever. Once in 1973 and again in 2010.
But if Ryan McDonagh is available the New York Islanders have to lodge a number of calls and make it happen.
It’s Not Going to Be Cheap
According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, the Rangers are looking to “blow it up” by putting Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello, and Ryan McDonagh on the trade block. And in return, the Rangers want youth and picks.
"The objective is to add young NHL or NHL-ready players every bit as much as garnering additional selections in upcoming entry drafts."
Perfect. The Islanders have both of those going for them. The discussion involving McDonagh has to revolve around those two first and second round picks that the New York Islanders control in the upcoming draft. If a young prospect is involved so be it. The Islanders need Ryan McDonagh.
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He’s got everything the New York Islanders are missing right now. Composure. Experience. Good production number. Ok possession numbers. And more importantly, he’s good at breaking up plays at the blueline and starting them up the other way.
During the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs, Sportsnet’s Dimitri Filipovic tracked every game at 5on5 to see what defenders were best at breaking up plays in the neutral zone. He measured this by examining the number of neutral zone entries attempted against the defender and how many the defender was able to break up.
Ryan McDonagh ranked fifth in terms of break up percentage with 16.85%. The highest was Hamphus Lindholm and his 21.43%. McDonagh also had a good 53.10% zone exit with possession rating according to Filipovic’s data. (Just hover over the Rangers logo in the top right of the chart).
His skill at breaking up the play and creating offense that other way are values that shouldn’t have to be justified. They are exactly what the New York Islanders need right now in their top for defensive units.
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There are just two potential issues with such a trade. The first is the cap hit. McDonagh has an attractive cap hit of $4.7 million through next season. Think about that number. If Calvin de Haan was playing at the same level he was in 2016-17 in this seaon he’d be looking at a similar deal.
In McDonagh, the Isles could get a better defender, with better production than Calvin de Haan. There’s no question. But getting a $4.7 million contract on the cap when the Isles only have $1.927 million is going to take some creativity.
…Or for Jeff Gorton to take Brock Nelson perhaps? (I doubt it).
The second, and biggest issue is getting around that rivalry. These two teams have made but two trades since the Islanders came into the league in 1972. Why would they all of a sudden start trading now? Because common sense prevails? Please, this is the NHL. Common sense came to the NHL to die.
Getting a deal done for McDonagh could happen, but it’s not going to be cheap for the New York Islanders. But if they can get it done, it would be oh so worth it.