McDonagh reaquired by TBL

Ryan McDonagh was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning by the Nashville Predators on Tuesday for a seventh-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft and a second-round pick in the 2025 NHL Draft.

The Lightning also received the Edmonton Oilers' fourth-round pick in the 2024 draft.

The 34-year-old defenseman, who had 32 points (three goals, 29 assists) in 74 games with the Predators this season, returns to the Lightning, with whom he played five seasons and won the Stanley Cup in 2020 and 2021.

“It’s a lot of emotions both ways whenever you get traded," McDonagh said Tuesday. "You think about the guys you just played with and competed with in the playoffs and also the opportunity that lies ahead, with obviously a group I’m very familiar with, too. ... It’s a place I’m very familiar with and a group of guys that I’m very familiar with. Obviously a place that my family and I still have a lot of love for. You just look forward to starting the process again with Tampa.

“There’s a handful of guys on that team still that are proven winners and that’s hard not to overlook. There’s obviously new guys that I haven’t played with yet, that I’ll get a chance to play alongside too, but you know as well as I that core group is a special group. And to be back with them, it’s hard not to make you believe again that something special can be done once more.”

Tampa Bay general manager Julien BriseBois said the trade for McDonagh, who has two seasons remaining on a seven-year, $47.25 million contract (average annual value $6.75 million) he signed with Tampa Bay on July 1, 2018, will not prevent them from attempting to re-sign captain Steven Stamkos, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

“We still have some cap space," BriseBois said. "Steven Stamkos is not signed yet, right? That’s ongoing. We’re still able in my mind to get something done that makes sense for the organization with Steven even after acquiring Ryan McDonagh. And depending on what happens with other players, we’ll address other needs. But we still have some cap space to get done what I think we need to get done this offseason.

“I don’t think anything changed. Steven was up front saying he wanted to stay. That’s his strong preference. I’ve mentioned that’s our strong preference as well. And now we’re still working on how we make this happen for it to make sense for both sides.”

NHL Now discusses the Ryan McDonagh trade

As for the Predators, they now have nine picks in the 2024 draft, which will be held at Sphere in Las Vegas from June 28-29: three in the second round, two each in the third and fourth round, and one in the first and seventh round.

In the 2025 draft, they will also have nine picks: two in the first, second and third rounds and one in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

Predators general manager Barry Trotz said he didn't make this move with the NHL salary cap in mind. Rather, to fulfill an ask from McDonagh.

"It was a request a little bit from Ryan," Trotz said. "We talked at the end of the year and he's got so many good memories of his time in Tampa, that's probably where him and his wife are going to settle. We just had a conversation about a little bit of life and what that holds in the future. For me, he's been such a fantastic leader and someone who I have so much respect for. He said if there's ever an opportunity for me to get back to Tampa, he asked if I'd explore that a little bit. And so out of respect and the type of person that Ryan is, I talked to Julien and he made a fair deal that would allow us to have Ryan go back to Tampa Bay and do the right thing.

"Sometimes in this game you try to do the right thing for good people and Ryan is one of the best leaders that I've ever been associated with. I've had some great leaders and he's up there with the greats. More importantly, he's one of the most fantastic people you're going to meet in this game. He keeps things real and he's one of those serial winners and you understand why. I think it's something that in the game you get to do something that's right, I tried to what's right for the person and the family and totally understand that."

McDonagh was originally traded to the Lightning by the New York Rangers along with J.T. Miller for Vladislav Namestnikov, Libor Hajek, Brett Howden, Tampa Bay's first-round pick in 2018 NHL Draft and a conditional pick in 2019 NHL Draft on Feb. 26, 2018.

He was then traded to Nashville by Tampa Bay for Philippe Myers and Grant Mismash on July 3, 2022.

"He'll be hard to replace because he's one of those special humans," Trotz said. "But at the same time we've been up for every challenge. We have such a strong leadership group with (captain Roman) Josi and [goalie Juuse Saros] and Filip Forsberg and Ryan O'Reilly and Colton Sissons and Luke Schenn, people like that, so we're still in a good place. But Ryan is one of those great people in the game that you come across. I want to thank him personally for everything he's done since I've been here and his impact is always felt."

McDonagh said he wasn't sure the trade would ever happen.

“Quite honestly, I didn’t really see a scenario of me being back in Tampa while on this contract I’m on," he said. "So, when I was informed of an opportunity it was hard not to be excited about it.

“You have to weigh a lot of options, both for myself, selfishly, my hockey career, but also my family and my three kids. At the end of the day, a move back to Tampa is what I feel is best for both of those, so that’s kind of the driving force here. I’ve got nothing but respect for Barry and everything that he did for my family here in Nashville and nothing but respect for the guys as well. But I can’t say that I’m not excited about Julien and Tampa wanting me back and wanting me to be part of the process again.”

McDonagh was selected by the Canadiens with the No. 12 pick in the 2007 NHL Draft but never played for them. He was traded to the Rangers as part of a six-player deal June 30, 2009. He has 389 points (76 goals, 313 assists) in 928 NHL games over 14 seasons with the Rangers, Lightning and Predators, and 65 points (12 goals, 53 assists) in 191 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

McDonagh led the NHL with a plus-18 rating and had eight assists in the 2021 playoffs, when the Lightning successfully defended their Cup title, defeating the Montreal Canadiens in five games in the Final.

He said he has already spoken with Stamkos about being back in Tampa.

“I’ve got a lot of texts with the guys and I’ve talked to 'Stammer' directly," McDonagh said. "Guys are kind of traveling and there are a couple of guys playing over in World Championships and what not. A lot of the guys have reached out and it’s great to hear and feel their excitement again for me joining the group.

“The leadership there is obviously still tremendous. I called Stammer today and he’s just getting off the ice with [Nikita Kucherov]. What is it, May 21st or whatever…how can you not be excited to join a group of guys like that, who are working on their game here after just being bounced in the first round? That’s the standard that the coaching staff, management and the players have built there.” staff writer Adam Kimelman and independent correspondent Corey Long contributed to this report

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