By Allan Muir
One down, two to go.
The decision of Rangers GM Glen Sather to lay off the open market and focus on his own restricted free agents paid off today when he inked Ryan McDonagh to a new deal.
Brooks thought it was fair value for the 24-year-old. That might be faint praise.
McDonagh, stolen from the Canadiens in a 2009 deal that deserved more attention from Quebec authorities than Zdeno Chara's hit on Max Pacioretty, has emerged as one of the better young defensemen in the game. During his three seasons with the Rangers, he's proven to be a reliable two-way performer who can be counted on to chew up big minutes in any situation.
Skating alongside Dan Girardi on New York's shutdown pair, he can play the game any way you want. He'll block shots, he'll get physical and he has enough skill offensively that he's expected to get a larger role on the power play under new coach Alain Vigneault. No wonder there were offer sheet rumors swirling around him.
It's a great deal for Sather, who not only locked McDonagh up for a period that includes the first three seasons during which he would have been eligible for unrestricted free agency, but also set an artificial ceiling that will impact the deals that still need to get done with Carl Hagelin and Derek Stepan.
And in exchange for a limited no-trade clause that kicks in for the final three years of the deal, he sacrifice on his annual salary -- he was said to be looking for $5 million per season -- and left Sather with a few extra bucks in his pocket to help get Hagelin and Stepan done.
Hagelin is arbitration eligible, so he'll probably get the bulk of Sather's attention in order to get something done before Wednesday. But with the Rangers so tight under the cap (just over $6.5 million available), there's still a chance that Hagelin or Stepan could be offer sheeted. Unlikely, but with talent at a premium and several clubs in the market for top-six forwards, it bears watching.