2013-14 Top 10 Sleeper Picks – #7 Ryan McDonagh

Dobber Sports

2013-07-29

 

RyanMcDonagh USA Today

 

Ryan McDonagh has established himself as an elite defensive defenseman. It’s time for him to do the same as an offensive defenseman.


 

Ryan McDonagh isn’t just one of the best young defensemen in hockey, he is one of the best defensemen in hockey. He really can do it all – defend, skate, pass, shoot, create – and the Rangers have really leaned on him over the past little while with the absence of Marc Staal. McDonagh has proven to be up to the task, creating a very effective shutdown pairing alongside Dan Girardi.

 

However, with Staal now healthy, the Rangers may want to give McDonagh more of an opportunity to show off his offensive abilities. He will still be relied upon to play heavy minutes against really good players, but new Rangers coach Alain Vigneault is a proponent of activating defensemen in the offense as much as possible.

 

Reason #1 – Coaching change


McDonagh flourished as an NHL player playing under John Tortorella, but he will flourish as an offensive contributor under Alain Vigneault. Vigneault likes to create roles for his players, and in Vancouver he leaned heavily on Christian Ehrhoff and Alex Edler from an offensive standpoint. I could see McDonagh playing a similar role to the one Edler had with the Canucks – a steady dose of offensive zone starts, tough minutes (but not the toughest), and a wealth of ice time on the power play.

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Reason #2 – Power play ice time

 

In 2013, McDonagh averaged only 0:38 per game on the PP (and 2:41 per game on the PK). Staal, Girardi, Michael Del Zotto, Anton Stralman, and Steve Eminger all averaged more man advantage ice time per game than McDonagh did. Even with his elite defensive abilities, he should be playing more in all important situations than most of the aformentioned defensemen.

 

And going back to 2011-12, McDonagh saw only 0:37 per game on the PP (fifth among Rangers defensemen). He still had seven goals and 32 points that season, which is really impressive considering the lack of power play ice time he received.

 

In Vancouver, Edler has averaged close to (or above) 3:30 of PP ice time per game over the past few years. Now there could be some competition from Del Zotto for this role with New York, and it may make more sense to give Del Zotto more of a pure offensive role (as he isn’t nearly as good as McDonagh defensively). But sooner or later McDonagh is going to force