Rewind two years ago when Glen Sather and the Rangers sent center Scott Gomez and his albatross $7.3 million annual cap-hit and two prospects north of the boarder to Montreal, in exchange for Chris Higgins, Pavel Valentenko and a college prospect named Ryan McDonagh. Fast-forward two years, and McDonagh has emerged as one of the best young defenseman in the NHL.
In his Sunday column, Larry Brook of the NY Post caught up with McDonagh, the 12th overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, to ask him about what happened in Montreal.
“They’d come to a few games to scout me during [the 2008-09 season], but I didn’t hear from them at all that summer about signing,” said McDonagh, who played that year at the University of Wisconsin. “I was actually on my way to [Montreal’s] summer camp and figured I’d find out what their thoughts were, but that’s when I was traded, so I never got there and I never asked the question.”
McDonagh said he’d never suited up for a game for the Habs, and said the Rangers wanted him for their team.
According to Brooks, the Canadiens were not happy with McDonagh’s development after they believed he’d be an offensive force from the blue-line. After his first year, Montreal may have been correct, as McDonagh only notched one goal in about 40 games last season. This year, though, McDonagh has showed his offensive upside, and has three goals in just 12 games.
“That’s a part of the game where I know I have more to add, and that the coaches want all the defenseman to be aware of,” McDonagh said. “It’s something that I came into the season wanting to improve on.”
For as much as we harp on Sather’s inability to sign free agents to worthy contracts, he’s been great at making trades. Higgins didn’t work out in New York, and he was shipped out to Calgary in a trade that brought in Brandon Prust, who has blossomed in the Big Apple. There are several other trades, but this has clearly become one of Sather’s best in New York.
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