McDonagh Trade

Nashville Predators General Manager Barry Trotz has officially made his first move of the offseason.

Trotz sent veteran defenseman Ryan McDonagh back to the Tampa Bay Lightning along with Edmonton's fourth-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft on Tuesday, the Predators in return received a seventh-round pick in 2024 and a second-round pick in 2025.

Addressing the media after the trade, Trotz confirmed the move was more about doing right by the 34-year-old defenseman than anything else.

“We talked at the end of the year and he's got so many good memories of his time in Tampa,” Trotz said. “We just had a conversation, a little bit about life and what the future holds, and for me, he's been such a fantastic leader and someone who I have so much respect for. So [he asked] if there was ever an opportunity for him to get back to Tampa if I would explore that a little bit. And so out of respect and [because of] the type of person that Ryan is, I talked to [Lightning General Manager Julien BriseBois] and we made I think 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 honestly one of the best leaders I've ever been associated with… Ryan is one of those great people in the game that you come across and I wanted to thank him, personally, for everything he's done since I've been here. His impact has always always been felt.”

Preds GM Barry Trotz Discusses Ryan McDonagh Trade

With a new vacancy on the blueline for next season and $6.75 million in cap space freed up for the next two, there are of course many things to consider in the wake of McDonagh’s trade.

Below are three of the key points Trotz touched on during Tuesday’s media availability:

Cap Space

Though sending McDonagh back to Tampa out of respect for the two-time Stanley Cup champion did play a role in the transaction, it also gives Trotz’s team $6.75 million more in cap space to play with over the next two seasons.

With nearly $12 million tied up in retained salaries and buyouts next season - those being Ryan Johansen ($4 million), Mattias Ekholm ($250k) Matt Duchene ($5.55 million) and Kyle Turris ($2 million) - the cap space cleared by McDonagh’s departure opens up unexpected possibilities, either to grab enticing pieces in free agency or renew expiring contracts.

“[It gives us] probably some flexibility now,” Trotz said. “Just because of the retention and all the stuff that we have going on with what I did last summer, this probably gives us a little more flexibility to maybe be a little more active in some free agency that we probably weren't considering ourselves to be in.”

Following Tuesday’s trade, the Predators have just over $26 million in available cap space to use this offseason.

Draft Capital

In addition to cap space, McDonagh’s trade gives the Predators four picks in the first two rounds of both the 2024 and 2025 drafts.

While it’s obviously a viable option to use all those premium picks on furthering the Predators prospect pipeline, Trotz sees plenty more possibilities in the enticing draft capital.

“I think this year you'll see us draft, especially in the first three rounds, and I think that we’ll use a lot of that draft capital,” he said. “After that, I think we might be switching it to next year, where you get the opportunity of teams that don't have picks that need picks. They’ll grab a pick a little higher, and we'll just not take that pick and maybe get two picks the next year or we'll flip it out so that we continue to have that pipeline. Because it's my vision, and talking with [Assistant General Manager and Director of Scouting] Jeff Kealty who runs our draft, that ideally we want to be in a position where we become a top team in this League and still have the draft choices in the pipeline coming so we can always fit the salary cap, but also have draft capital going forward. So when you have to make that big deal, when you feel like you're on the cusp of doing something great, you’re going deep or going for it, you want to have those draft choices available to go get those guys, those high picks or those high-end players when they’re needed.”

As a reminder, here’s a breakdown of Nashville’s picks in the 2024 NHL Draft, happening June 28-29 in Las Vegas:

First Round: One Pick


Second Round: Three Picks


TBL via Tanner Jeannot trade in Feb. 2023

WPG via Nino Niederreiter trade in Feb. 2023

Third Round: Two Picks


DAL via trade for 2023 third-round pick

Fourth Round: Two Picks


CHI via trade with TBL for 2023 fourth-round pick

Seventh Round: One Pick

TBL via Ryan McDonagh trade in May 2024

Young Guns

With one blueliner now out of the lineup, a number of Nashville’s young defensive prospects could have a viable shot at making the Predators final roster out of training camp this summer.

Trotz has three options who have already been tested at the NHL level in Spencer Stastney, Marc Del Gaizo and Jake Livingstone, and plenty more who have had impactful seasons in Milwaukee or elsewhere.

“When a player gives you trust and comfort, then you feel a lot better about moving guys,” Trotz said. “If [McDonagh] had gone down with an injury, for instance, we had people that could come in and be able to do it for a short period of time. Now it’s, can you do it for a long period of time? I'm watching the [Calder Cup Playoffs], and you’ve got some good, young players down there. You watch Stastney or [Adam] Wilsby or Del Gaizo. Wilsby’s been playing really well right now… We’ve got [Tanner] Molendyk, who everybody liked last year and had a phenomenal year… Jake Livingstone is a right-handed shot, a little bigger guy that might open up some opportunity for him, and he's been out of the lineup a little bit for Milwaukee, but he's a player that has played NHL games. So, we have a little bit of depth there, but they're all similar. So I think it'll be good and camp will filter out and find out the best of them.”

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