At only 24 years of age Ryan McDonagh has gone from a throw in piece in the trade that shipped Scott Gomez out of New York to becoming the Rangers number one defenseman. That’s a fast track to becoming a fan favorite.
McDonagh is the unquestioned anchor of the Rangers d-corps. In his first three NHL season’s he excelled under John Tortarella’s scheme, one that was renowned for it’s stingy defensive zone style, as evidenced by McDonagh’s +54 rating over that stretch, but this year under new coach Alain Vigneault his offensive acumen has been on display as well. McDonagh may be best known for his ability in his own zone, but he is an underrated puck mover, well on his way to a career year offensively. He has already tied his career high in goals with seven tallies and only three points from his best ever total with 29 points through only 54 games this season.
This is a player who is asked to play all three phases of the game for the Blueshirts, and he has shown the ability to thrive in all situations. 10 of his 29 points have come quarterbacking the Rangers power play and he has even chipped in two short handed points so far this year. His durability is another major component of his game, he has logged an average of over 24 minutes per game in each of the last three seasons, while only missing one game within that stretch.
I have no doubt that McDonagh will play a nearly identical role for team USA as he does for the Rangers. He will likely be asked to be on the team’s lock down defensive pairing, going up against the best the opponent has to offer throughout the tournament, and I could see him playing significant minutes on the penalty kill as well. The only alteration may be that he does not log as many power play minutes as he does on Broadway because of the offensive talent on the US blue line. I would presume that players like Ryan Suter and Cam Fowler may steal some of his opportunities with a man advantage.
Defenseman generally have a tougher road to becoming household names, and McDonagh has already become one in the Big Apple, Sochi will provide him a chance to become one throughout the nation.