You can criticize New York Rangers general manager Glen Sather for a lot of things. You can rip him apart for all the dubious trades and free agent signings he’s made throughout his 13-year tenure. Heck, you can even criticize him for the new Henrik Lundqvist contract based on his current performance.
But here’s one thing you can praise him for without argument: his six-year contract extension of defenseman Ryan McDonagh was not only the best move Sather made this past offseason, but with each passing game it continues be worth every single penny.
Ranger fans fondly remember how McDonagh came to New York in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens for one of the all-time worst free agent signings of Sather’s tenure: Scott Gomez. Since making his NHL debut with the Rangers in the 2010-11 season, McDonagh has steadily risen to the ranks of the league’s elite defensemen and has become the Rangers’ best defenseman by far.
He consistently averages 24 minutes per game, and is the Rangers’ leader among defensemen this season with 20 points, already more than his total all last season. Most importantly, he has made little to no fatal mistakes in terms of defensive coverage, a problem that has plagued his fellow defensemen including his line partner Dan Girardi.
McDonagh is only 24 years of age, and figures to get much better over time. Sather provided a rare stroke of genius by executing the Gomez-McDonagh trade, and did the right thing in giving his young elite blueliner a long-term deal. The contract situations of many of the Rangers’ top players was a hot topic this past summer, but Sather did not hesitate to pay the man that deserved it the most.
Odds look very good at the moment that by the time the deal expires, we’ll still look at this trade and signing very fondly.