Ryan McDonagh

Morning Skate: Ex-US women's player Mleczko to work games for NBC

AP Photo

Morning Skate: Ex-US women's player Mleczko to work games for NBC

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while celebrating the 18th anniversary of Rick Pitino’s “Fellowship of the Miserable” diatribe while he was running the Celtics.

*Cool to hear that former Harvard star A.J. Mleczko is going to be doing some color analysis work for NHL games on NBC Sports. I think that’s a great idea to get a fresh and different perspective and clearly, Mleczko knows her stuff. Even better, the first game she’ll be calling will be Bruins and Red Wings on Tuesday night.

*Ryan McDonagh took time at the Players Tribune to thank the New York hockey fans after getting traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

*It really sounds like Milan Lucic is struggling in Edmonton where he’s gone almost 30 games without a goal or a primary assist and now some are calling for his role to be reduced.

*Patrice Bergeron is still being mentioned in the Hart Trophy race, along with Nikita Kucherov and Evgeni Malkin, but one of the real downsides of the foot injury is that it’s going to knock him out of the running.

*Aaron Dell opted not to try and test the market for a chance to be a No. 1 goalie and will instead stick around with the San Jose Sharks for a couple more years.

*For something completely different: Interesting perspective from a staffer with President Ronald Reagan who used to take in Friday movie nights with the President and the First Lady.


Haggerty: Road just got tougher for everyone in the East

Haggerty: Road just got tougher for everyone in the East

BRIGHTON, Mass. – The reality coming out of the NHL trade deadline is that the Eastern Conference got a little more treacherous for everybody involved.

Each of the top teams in the East, outside of the Washington Capitals, improved ahead of the Monday afternoon deadline with significant upgrades designed to make them that much more difficult to deal with come springtime. The rich got richer, the tough got a little tougher and roster weaknesses were addressed by GMs who correctly feel that the Eastern Conference is completely wide open this season.

At the top of the list is the NHL’s best team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, who became the prohibitive favorites in the East after landing Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh and gritty, speedy J.T. Miller in a mega-deal with the Blueshirts. Add that to a Tampa mega-team that already includes Nikita Kucherov, Steve Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Andrei Vasilevskiy and a host of others, and that's a prohibitive "paper" favorite in the East.  

Certainly, the Bruins were in discussions on the rugged, battle-proven McDonagh, but in the end, they weren’t going to disrupt a roster that’s been the best in the league the past three months.

Giving up Jake DeBrusk and Brandon Carlo simply wasn't going to be an option for a Bruins team that still view draft and development as a priority toward building something sustained and special.

“We all are in the business to try to improve our team either right now or maybe next year. So, there are 31 teams that are jockeying this time of the year. We knew where the marketplace was for the players that moved [at the deadline], and we had the intention to try and improve our team,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney. “I think we’ve done that. We’ve addressed some of the things. Could we have done better? Well, that is to be determined.

“Team chemistry is important. We are trying to build something for winning now and winning in the future, and we weren’t going to deviate from that. I don’t think we have. No disrespect to the players that have left our organization because we wish them well, but we have chartered a course that we are not going to deviate from. I think we have improved our hockey club, and I expect us to be a very strong team coming down the stretch.”

Instead of paying premiums at the last minute, the Bruins acted ahead of time and landed power forward Rick Nash, the premier winger on the trade market as a big-bodied complement to David Krejci, and shored up a young, rookie-laden roster with veterans at every position by getting Nick Holden, Brian Gionta and Tommy Wingels. The depth will be important with the Bruins kicking off a stretch where they’ll play 24 games in 44 days to end the regular season and injuries will certainly factor in as the attrition adds up late in the year.

The veteran depth players are also insurance in case any of the five to six rookies the Bruins play on a nightly basis experience some rough patches with the intensity ramping up at the end of the season. Clearly, the goal is for the young B’s players to experience and thrive in the stretch run and postseason, but it certainly doesn’t hurt for a team Cup aspirations to have a backup plan.

“I think that is something we were pretty aware of. They’re going through some of these things. We learned from that last year when some of the guys were going through their first playoff experiences. David Pastrnak is a great example of that. We made a move this year to really integrate some of the younger players and credit to them [for playing well],” said Sweeney. “But it’s a long schedule, and they’re going through that for the first time. I think some of the guys that have been there can help them continue to wade through that. We fully expect to keep them.

“Brandon [Carlo] sat out the other night, but, again, he can come back into the lineup and re-insert himself pretty quickly, and other guys may need a breather or not depending on their play. It’s always about the performance. But I think you’re right in the fact that having some veteran players around that have been through this will help guide them down the right path.”

Unfortunately, it’s not just the Bruins that have upgraded while supplanting Ryan Spooner with Nash on their second-line right wing. The reigning back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins got a bona-fide playoff performer in Derick Brassard as their third-line center, the Maple Leafs brought on pesky Tomas Plekanec as a player that has bugged Krejci his entire career as a member of the Montreal Canadiens and the surging Philadelphia Flyers got needed goalie help with the addition of Petr Mrazek.

Even the New Jersey Devils got some solid veteran upgrades by landing both Michael Grabner and Patrick Maroon for some extra oomph at the forward spots.

That’s not even going back to the biggest move of them all in Tampa Bay, where brilliant GM Steve Yzerman landed his big fish with the McDonagh deal that went down to the deadline. So, the good news for the Bruins and the rest of the Eastern Conference is that just about every GM can look in the mirror and correctly state that they improved their team.

The bad news is that the Tampa Bay has been the best team in the NHL all season and their bold deadline moves possibly widened the gap between them and the rest of the East. The Bruins will get their chance to see how they stack up with three meetings against the Lightning in their final 22 games of the season that could very well determine who gets the No. 1 seed in the East. Still, there were no real Eastern Conference “winners” when it comes to this season’s trade deadline because the road just got a lot tougher for everybody involved with clear roster upgrades as far as the eye can see.  


Winners and losers at the NHL trade deadline

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Winners and losers at the NHL trade deadline

To the delight of many hockey fans and pundits alike, it was an extremely active NHL trade deadline day on Monday with big names like Ryan McDonagh, Evander Kane and Tomas Tatar involved in deals even as much of the action had taken place in the days prior to the actual deadline. In fact a bevy of first round picks changed hands on deadline day, which speaks to just how many teams believe they have a legitimate shot at a Cup run in a wide open season.

Here is a rundown of the winners and losers from the 2018 NHL trade deadline with the simple truth being that we won’t truly know until after this season has concluded:


Tampa Bay Lightning – Steve Yzerman is at the top of his game as an NHL general manager, and he showed why again on Monday by doing whatever it took to close the deal and land Rangers frontline defenseman Ryan McDonagh. You add McDonagh to a star-studded roster of Nikita Kucherov, Steve Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Ryan Callahan, Brayden point and Andrei Vasilevskiy, and you’re talking about the best team in the Eastern Conference, on paper anyway. The Lightning had to pay a steep price including Vladislav Namestnikov, a first round pick and a wealth of prospects, but Tampa Bay is absolutely in “win now” mode with their group of players. Dealing for McDonagh and JT Miller is exactly that kind of trade that could put a team over the top, and that puts them squarely in the “winners” category.

New York Rangers – Speaking of Ryan McDonagh, the struggling Rangers decided they were going to flip a number of core veteran players and reload with a group of younger prospects and prime draft picks. So Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton shipped out Nick Holden, Rick Nash, Michael Grabner, McDonagh and JT Miller to the Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning and New Jersey Devils, and turned that into a haul that included Vladislav Namestnikov, Ryan Spooner, two first round picks, a conditional third first round pick, a second round pick, a third round pick, a seventh round pick and five young prospects of varying degrees of promise. That’s a tremendously quick makeover for a Rangers team that was going nowhere fast with their previous core group after a run that fell just short of a Stanley Cup title, and a lot of young assets for New York to turn into an exciting young hockey club. Gorton and the Blueshirts starred at the NHL trade deadline, and they maximized their return on the veteran pieces that they traded away.

Boston Bruins – Don Sweeney had a couple of goals going into the deadline. One was a veteran top-6 power forward winger that could play with David Krejci, and the other was a number of veteran depth pieces to augment the NHL roster mix of proven veterans and exciting rookies that have taken the NHL by storm over the last three months. The Bruins turned a 2018 first round pick and a number of extra pieces into landing the premier rental winger on the trade market in 33-year-old Rick Nash, who could be a truly dangerous offensive player on the second line with David Krejci during a playoff run. The Bruins also signed or traded for Brian Gionta, Nick Holden and Tommy Wingels, who give the Bruins proven, veteran depth at the wings, on the back end and up-front in case the young players can’t hold up their end of the bargain in the pressure-packed playoffs. The bottom line for the Bruins is that they’re a much better team coming out of the deadline than they were going into it, and that’s the name of the game for every NHL team.

Winnipeg Jets – Winnipeg looked like they were going to be frustrated in their attempts to land a center when they lost out on the sweepstakes for Derick Brassard and Tomas Plekanec, and that would have been a shame given how good the Jets have been this season. Instead the Jets pulled a rabbit out of their hat and somehow managed to pry Paul Stastny out of the St. Louis Blues with a first round pick and local college hockey prospect Erik Foley, and added an important piece to a Winnipeg team that’s already teeming with talent even prior to this trade. Give Kevin Cheveldayoff credit for working diligently until the right deal was finalized for the Jets, and now Winnipeg is set up for a potentially long run in the Western Conference this season.


Ottawa Senators – The Senators teased and tricked their way to everybody thinking that franchise D-man Erik Karlsson was going to get moved ahead of Monday’s trade deadline, and teams were lining up with their offers. But it didn’t happen even as things are falling apart in Ottawa, and some desperate teams appear to have even been willing to take on Bobby Ryan’s albatross of a contract to make it happen. Instead the Senators opted to hold onto a player in Karlsson that may already have one foot out of the door mentally, and continue prolonging a futile limbo where Ottawa certainly isn’t competitive, and probably needs to begin rebuilding things from the ground up. For a team as completely out of it as the Senators are this season, they did surprisingly little with their roster to start any kind of a rebuilding campaign outside of trading Derick Brassard to Pittsburgh. They didn’t move Mike Hoffman or JG Pageau and now have a player in Karlsson that everybody knows is going to be moved this summer in a blockbuster decision. The Bruins could have picked up the speed on their rebuild with some bold moves this week, but it simply didn’t happen for Pierre Dorion.

Washington Capitals – While other Eastern Conference teams in Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Toronto and Boston added to their rosters with significant upgrades at the trade deadline, the Capitals did absolutely nothing to improve a team in playoff position. Certainly some of it is about a Capitals team that’s already pretty well put together for the playoff haul, but it’s also about a Washington group that was never really in the mix for any of the big names despite their place in the standings. Perhaps Washington has decided they’re not going to waste valuable future assets on rental players leading up to what’s been a challenging playoff atmosphere for the Capitals, But doing nothing is pretty unforgivable for a Washington team in decent playoff position, and with as good of a chance as anybody in a wide open Eastern Conference. Washington was one of the teams that was outmaneuvered by the Lightning for Ryan McDonagh at the deadline.

Buffalo Sabres – Sabres GM Jeff Botterill got only a conditional second round pick for Evander Kane as a prime rental piece, and wasn’t able to move Josh Gorges, Robin Lehner or Benoit Pouliot as deadline deals. It looks nobody was really interested in Buffalo’s spare parts. Who could have ever guessed that? It certainly looks like the San Jose Sharks could benefit greatly from a rental like Kane that will be on his best behavior for the next couple of months while looking for a big contract, but they were the only NHL team that reportedly showed serious interest in Kane. Perhaps it was just as well that the Sabres sat out this trade deadline aside from flipping Kane to the San Jose Sharks, and focus instead on trying to organize their remaining young pieces into a hockey team that might actually win a few games down the stretch and into the postseason.