Nashville Predators begin offseason with a bang, trade Ryan McDonagh

In what figures to be another hectic offseason for the Nashville Predators under Barry Trotz's front office leadership, they traded Ryan McDonagh back to the Lightning.
Apr 13, 2024; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) skates against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the third period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 13, 2024; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) skates against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the third period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports / Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Well it certainly looks like Barry Trotz is not wasting any time with his offseason plan. In what can be described as a shocking move, if for no other reason than the timing of it, the Nashville Predators have traded Ryan McDonagh to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Predators acquired McDonagh from the Lightning two years ago, back when David Poile was general manager and they were giving their previous core one final chance. But as the team is now going in a different direction under a new regime, they have sent McDonagh back to the place where he won two Stanley Cups.

Many will not like this move from the Predators' point of view, as McDonagh was one of the team's better defensemen and a big leader, which is vital to the culture Trotz is trying to build. But honestly, this is a move that makes sense for the team's direction, and one people should have seen as a possibility beforehand.


McDonagh trade makes sense for Nashville Predators

One of the things that stood out from Trotz's end of the year press conference was that he wanted to make the Predators younger, and McDonagh was the oldest player on the roster. When you also consider the fact that he has two full years left on a contract that pays him $6.75M per year, it makes sense why Trotz opted to move on.

Aside from that, the left side of the Predators' defense was a total logjam before McDonagh was traded. With Spencer Stastney drawing into the playoff roster this past season, it felt like he was going to be in Nashville in the fall, and that something had to give between McDonagh and Jeremy Lauzon, since Roman Josi was not going anywhere.

Even for an extremely valuable guy like McDonagh, it is easy to see how he became expendable given the team's roster makeup and that they are placing an emphasis on younger guys for the future. And even though he did become expendable, he will not be easy to replace.

McDonagh was a huge part of leadership for the Predators, and his experience as a Stanley Cup winner was something the team could lean on, especially the younger guys as they mature. His loss will definitely be felt, but will not sink this team to the point of no return.

They still have Josi as the team captain, and Ryan O'Reilly, a guy Trotz specifically acquired to aid the team culture, is still around. Plus, it was proven from this year that the culture really begins up top with Trotz and Andrew Brunette, and even if McDonagh in himself will be hard to replace, I am not worried that the Predators will lose their entire identity due to one player leaving.

They also sent a big message about how they value their players by making this trade, and one that can only help their team culture. Trotz revealed afterwards that McDonagh asked to be traded back to Tampa Bay, and he did everything he could to ultimately honor the request.

Trotz also raved about McDonagh in the interview and how much he appreciates him, and that he wanted to make the trade because it was important to McDonagh. Players across the league will notice how Trotz cares about his guys and rewards them, and can we also talk about the return he got for having close to zero leverage?

Even if Trotz did it mainly to satisfy McDonagh, when you weigh the pros and cons of this move, the Predators will lose a little, but not everything from their culture, but gain a lot as well. They got younger, addressed a concern on their back end, got considerably more money to spend, and got another top-100 draft pick, which is well worth it if you are moving on from a guy like McDonagh.

The Predators now have just over $26M of cap space according to CapFriendly, giving themselves the ability to be heavy spenders this offseason. We can absolutely anticipate that Trotz will go after a big time forward to help the top six, as he said he wants to add more speed and skill to the team.

It is tough to see McDonagh go since he was such a positive during his two years in Nashville, but sometimes tough and unpopular decisions have to be made, and this was exactly that. Good on Trotz for not being afraid to pull the trigger, and also realizing what the situation was and making it a true win/win for both player and team.