Lightning trade for McDonagh, not Karlsson

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Here’s how great Erik Karlsson is: he makes Ryan McDonagh a Plan B.

The Ottawa Senators appear to be holding onto Karlsson until at least the summer, but the Tampa Bay Lightning are still going bold for a Stanley Cup. Details are still being sorted out, yet the headline move is that the Lightning landed McDonagh.

Again, it’s just … a lot. Especially if J.T. Miller is also bound for Tampa Bay, as many including TSN’s Darren Dreger report.

What we know about the trade so far, confirmations to come:

Lightning receive: McDonagh, Miller.

Rangers receive: Vladislav Namestnikov,Libor Hajek, Brett Howden, 2018 1st round pick, and a conditional second round pick, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie. Here are more details about the picks, via Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Again, considering the enormity of this deal, this post will be updated if more information comes.

Update: It’s official.

Why the Lightning made the trade: The more appropriate question might be “How did they do this?” with the answer being “Steve Yzerman is a wizard.”

Stevie Y didn’t want to give up someone like Brayden Point or Mikhail Sergachev to make a big move. Namestnikov is absolutely a nice player, but he’s also owed a new contract soon. This solves that riddle while adding a genuine top-pairing defenseman in McDonagh. While McDonagh isn’t a superstar at the level of Karlsson, he probably qualifies as a star, especially when you remember that he’s dragged around some questionable defensemen over the years in New York.

(Amusingly, that main guy was Dan Girardi, so there’s a … reunion?)

Miller is a very nice scorer, and he’s only 24. For all we know, he might be an upgrade on Namestnikov, or at least a lateral move in that regard. Granted, he’s a pending RFA with a $2.75 million cap hit, so that question carries over. (Namestnikov is 25.)

Much like with what they could have gotten by landing Karlsson, the Lightning get McDonagh for two playoff runs, as the talented defenseman’s cheap $4.75M cap hit runs through 2018-19. He’s a bit cheaper than Karlsson, and looking forward, should be a bit easier to re-sign after that. If the Lightning choose to do so.

At worst, the Lightning hit a triple, if you consider Karlsson a home run. It might be more like managing a two-run homer instead of a grand slam, though, really.

Why the Rangers made the trade: New York continues a jaw-dropping run of moves as they rapidly rebuild, putting slower-moving franchises like the Canucks to shame.

The Rangers have gotten nice hauls for Rick Nash, Nick Holden, and Michael Grabner. Moving McDonagh is probably the most painful decision of the bunch, especially with a year remaining on his deal, and also with the trade costing Miller too.

Still, the Rangers get Howden and Hajek, plus two significant draft picks.

Hajek, 20, was a second-rounder (37th overall) in the 2016 NHL Draft. Howden, 19, went 10 picks earlier as the 27th selection. It’s honestly all a lot to digest, but this is actually an impressive haul for the Rangers. That’s especially true if the conditional picks pan out, these prospects show dividends, and they reach a reasonable deal with an underrated player in Namestnikov.

Who won the trade?

This is maybe the most massive “now versus later” trade of a deadline that’s been dominated by such considerations. At first, it looks like a landslide for the Lightning. And it’s certainly a price they were willing to pay to make a very serious bid for a Stanley Cup.

Still, you have to give the Rangers credit, too. While the Senators flinched at moving Karlsson, New York moved a key defenseman during the deadline. If the plan was to part ways at some point – quite plausible if things don’t turn around next season – then the Rangers likely got the best return possible for McDonagh.

Seriously, that’s quite the haul, especially combined with other trades.

So, who do you got? Or was it both? Sorry there isn’t a “my mind is too blown to answer right now” option.

MORE: PHT’s 2018 Trade Deadline Tracker.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.