The key to the Ryan McDonagh to Tampa Bay trade was the inclusion of prospect defenseman Libor Hajek and had he not been involved, McDonagh would still be with the Rangers, reports Larry Brooks of the New York Post. The 2016 second-round pick is having a strong season at the WHL level and put forth a very strong showing back at the World Juniors and figures to be an important piece of their retooling on the back end. Brooks adds that Pittsburgh, Washington, and Florida made runs at McDonagh before the trade deadline while noting that the Capitals would have needed to get a third team involved to get a deal done.
More from around the league:
- The Oilers are expected to sign UMass-Boston forward Colin Larkin to an NHL entry-level deal, reports Mark Divver of the Providence Journal (Twitter links). The 24-year-old has had a strong season at the NCAA Division III level, posting 24 goals and 22 assists in just 27 games and averaged a point per game or better in each of his four collegiate seasons. He is also the brother of Red Wings center Dylan Larkin.
- The Avalanche should have goaltender Jonathan Bernier available for their upcoming road trip, reports Mike Chambers of the Denver Post. He has missed the last eight games due to a concussion. Meanwhile, winger Sven Andrighetto, who has been out since December 31st due to a leg injury, is also nearing a return. The news isn’t as promising for a pair of defenders as Erik Johnson (shoulder) and Mark Barberio (concussion) are not close to returning to Colorado’s lineup.
- The contract extension for Washington GM Brian MacLellan leaves two general managers in limbo. One of those is Lou Lamoriello of the Maple Leafs whose initial three-year contract is set to expire at the end of the season. While there has been speculation that he could cede his spot to Kyle Dubas, the 75-year-old told reporters, including Postmedia’s Terry Koshan, that he isn’t concerned about his role with the team next year at all, calling it a “non-issue”. Even if Lamoriello is out of the GM chair next season, he’s likely to stick around in an advisory role at the very least.