Regardless of the outcome, it’s safe to say the New York Rangers exceeded their expectations for the 2013-14 season. One of the biggest moves they made this season was trading their blue collar forward and captain Ryan Callahan, along with a few draft picks, to the Tampa Bay Lightning for ageless veteran Martin St. Louis.
While the trade seems to have worked in the Blueshirts’ favor, it leaves them without a current captain. When July 1 rolls around, it should be no surprise if head coach Alain Vigneault names 25-year-old defenseman Ryan McDonagh the next captain of the Rangers.
McDonagh exemplifies everything you’d want in a captain. He’s a vocal leader on and off the ice. You’ll always find him in the play or starting one (take his performance against the Montreal Canadiens in this year’s Eastern Conference Finals for example). The man they call “Mac Truck” also is a recipient of this season’s Team MVP after posting career-highs in goals (14), assists (29) and points (43). Plus, even his own teammates have publicly supported the move if it became a reality.
Since the Rangers had no captain after the trade deadline this season, they were led by three assistants (defensemen Dan Girardi and Marc Staal with center Brad Richards). It’d make sense if Vigneault gave one of his assistants the job, but if you look at the details, it wouldn’t work. There’s talk that Richards will be bought out, Staal isn’t signed after next season and Girardi, while reportedly playing with a hand injury, continued to turn the puck over at the worst times in the Stanley Cup Final. The only logical pick for captain minus McDonagh would be goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, but you’ll rarely see a team name their goalie a captain.
Rangers fans should thank the Canadiens (and mostly Scott Gomez) for McDonagh. While general manager Glen Sather isn’t the best personnel guy (Wade Redden, anyone?), he’s pulled off some solid trades over the years. McDonagh might’ve won the Team MVP award, but the bigger prize would be the “C” stitched on his uniform.