New York Rangers: McDonagh deserved better in his time in New York


At the trade deadline, the New York Rangers sent captain Ryan McDonagh to the Tampa Bay Lightning. While McDonagh certainly wasn’t a bad player, I feel that he had more untapped potential.

Ryan McDonagh. A homegrown defenseman, obtained in a salary dump in the Scott Gomez trade, who went on to be the 27th captain of the New York Rangers.

He played his heart out in every game and was a true playoff warrior, proved by him playing with a broken foot in the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals. A player who could both shut down the opposition and chip in offensively.

However, I believe McDonagh could have  been even better. With better coaching and better player management, who knows what could have happened.

The High Points

At the beginning of his career, McDonagh was mostly paired with Dan Girardi. Before his rapid decline, Girardi was a gritty, shot blocking, shutdown defenseman. With his skill set, he meshed perfectly with McDonagh.

Stats wise, the pairing’s corsi from 2010 to 2014 is a hair under the average of 50, at 49.81. The two played 236 games together in this time and were a force to be reckoned with as the Rangers top defensive pairing.

While McDonagh was great with Girardi, he was even better with Anton Stralman. Stralman was only in New York for three seasons, from 2011-2012 to 2013-2014. In this time period, he and McDonagh played 170 games. Together, they had a whopping 57.41 corsi rating. These incredible defensive numbers were a large part of the reason the Rangers made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2014. However, shortly after. things started to go downhill.

The Aftermath

Instead of signing the budding Stralman, the Rangers decided they needed  veteran presence to put them over the edge. Therefore, they brought in Dan Boyle, signing him to a similar contract that Stralman was asking for. Boyle seemed to be perpetually in decline in New York, and was more of a burden than helpful. While Boyle and McDonagh posted a 56.1% corsi rating, they played only 62 games together. Additionally, Boyle played only two seasons in New York before retiring, making the sting of choosing him over Stralman hurt that much more.

After the 2014 Cup Finals, Girardi began to rapidly decline. His years of such physical play and shot blocking were catching up to him, making him slower and took a toll on his defensive skills. Nonetheless, he continued to play top line minutes with McDonagh. His CF% dropped dramatically with McDonagh, sitting at just 43.1%. The competition became too much for Girardi to compete with, and he became a liability in the defensive end. Ultimately, this led to his buyout at the conclusion of the 2016-2017 season.

This past season, the coaching staff had the chance to right these wrongs. The Rangers had just signed Kevin Shattenkirk, who stated that a big part of coming to New York was the chance to play with Ryan McDonagh.

However, we barely got a glimpse of the two together. McDonagh and Shatenkirk played just over 56 minutes together. not even three full periods. In that short time, the two posted a 52.68 CF%.

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As we all know, McDonagh was traded at the trade deadline to the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he continues to play with Dan Girardi. With different coaching and better player management, who knows what could have happened? Oh, what could have been.