It’s no secret that the Toronto Maple Leafs are in the hunt for a top four defenseman. With the NHL’s trade deadline just over a month away, there are daily reports linking the Leafs to the market’s most sought after defensemen including Mike Green, Chris Tanev and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, but Larry Brooks of the New York Post made waves this past weekend by offering up a new trade target: New York Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh.
McDonagh's name has only recently emerged in trade chatter and all indications so far is that the Rangers have no intention of moving the reliable, two-way defender. Still, when a connected insider like Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman drops your name in trade discussion, you know there's something to the rumor.
Will Ryan McDonagh be added to that list? On Tuesday morning, the Rangers woke up one point out of the playoffs, and Henrik Lundqvist is having a Vezina-calibre season. But there is a growing sense they just don’t see it long-term and are willing to make changes. That undoubtedly means the UFAs (David Desharnais, Michael Grabner, Nick Holden, Rick Nash). It also means they will listen on McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello, but only if given good reason to pursue. It’s interesting. There is a growing group of sellers, but how many buyers are there?
The 28-year-old McDonagh is having another stellar season in The Big Apple with 22 points in 43 games. He’s on pace to top the 40 point mark for the third time in his career and plays big time minutes in all situations for the Rangers. There’s no question that he’d be a fit in the Leafs’ top four, the sticking point in a potential trade however is in the asking price.
The name that Brooks offers up in return for McDonagh is young Leafs sniper William Nylander. The 21-year-old former 8th overall pick has 9 goals and 32 points in 48 games with the Leafs this season and would look absolutely dynamite alongside Mika Zibanejad in NYC. Whether or not each team has the stomach to make such a risky move though remains to be seen.