Bolts deal McDonagh to Preds, agent calls client's departure 'crushing'
The Tampa Bay Lightning dealt veteran defenseman Ryan McDonagh to the Nashville Predators for blue-liner Philippe Myers and forward Grant Mismash, the teams announced Sunday.
"It's tough," McDonagh's agent, Ben Hankinson, told The Athletic's Joe Smith. "He's been there four years, won a couple Cups, been to (the Cup Final) three years in a row. All of a sudden, to be told, 'You're not coming back, it's a business decision, we can't have you back,' it's hard for him to accept that.
"There's the emotional connection and the business side of it. It took what seemed like forever, only three or four days, but they wanted to move forward. He's heard from every single member of the (Lightning). Crushing."
Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois met with McDonagh three days after Tampa Bay fell to the Colorado Avalanche in the final to ask if he'd be willing to waive his full no-trade clause, according to Smith. Hankinson said McDonagh had his "head spinning" when he exited the meeting.
"I think it took a couple days to realize what to do," the agent said. "Do you fight it and figure out a way to stay? Which he wanted to do. … It's not always by the player's choice. The good news is that Ryan is motivated and in a great spot right now. It wasn't his choice. But given the circumstances, we found a good spot."
BriseBois insisted he wouldn't have dealt McDonagh if not for financial considerations.
"If we didn't live in a flat salary cap world, it would never have crossed my mind to ask Ryan McDonagh to waive his no-trade clause because I would have been ecstatic to know that I had him under contract for four more years," the GM said, per team reporter Chris Krenn.
McDonagh, who turned 33 in June, has four years remaining on his contract at a $6.75-million cap hit.
Tampa Bay exceeded the league's $82.5-million salary cap limit before signing Nick Paul to a seven-year extension earlier this week. Moving McDonagh's contract off the books could clear enough money to retain forward Ondrej Palat, who's scheduled for unrestricted free agency.
The Lightning acquired McDonagh from the New York Rangers in 2018, and he played a significant role on the back end for Tampa Bay's consecutive championships in 2020 and 2021.
Myers suited up in 27 games for the Predators last campaign. There were rumblings Tampa Bay could buy the 25-year-old out for additional cap savings, but BriseBois squashed the rumor.
"We've liked him going back to his junior days. We really like the tool box," he said, according to ESPN's Greg Wyshynski.
Nashville drafted Mismash in the second round in 2017. The 23-year-old has yet to play an NHL game and recorded 12 points in 57 AHL contests last season.