The Tampa Bay Lightning announced that they have acquired defenseman Ryan McDonagh and a 2024 fourth-round pick from the Nashville Predators in exchange for 2025 second-round and a 2024 seventh-round picks.

The Lightning are bringing back a familiar face in Ryan McDonagh, who was a vital member of the team's defensive unit during their two Stanley Cup victories in 2020 and 2021. He was traded from the Lightning to the Predators after the 2021-2022 season due to cap constraints that Tampa Bay had.

While not in his prime anymore, McDonagh still proved his value with the Panthers over the last two seasons. In 2023-2024, he scored three goals and recorded 29 assists for 32 points in 74 games, according to McDonagh is not necessarily known for being a huge offensive threat as a defenseman, but he has been a stabilizing force on the defensive end in his career.

The Lightning seem to be trying to squeeze everything out of this core of players that they have, and bringing back a 34-year-old in McDonagh is evidence of that. He is entering the final two years of his seven-year, $47.25 million contract that he signed with the Lightning back in 2018. He will account for $6.75 million against the cap for the next two seasons, according to Cap Friendly. That is if there is no retained money for the Predators in this deal.

McDonagh proved that he is still an effective player down the stretch this season for the Predators and in round one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Vancouver Canucks, which makes him still valuable in a trade for Nashville, and makes the Lightning comfortable enough to bring him back. Luckily, returning to the Lightning under head coach Jon Cooper will not be a tough transition for McDonagh, as he is very familiar with that system.

Ryan McDonagh brings a ton of experience back to the Lightning

Not only does McDonagh return as a familiar face and effective player, he has a ton of experience playing high-stakes hockey. He was initially drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 2007, but was eventually traded to the New York Rangers before making his NHL debut.

McDonagh made his debut with the Rangers in the 2010-2011 season, and he became a staple of that team that became a Stanley Cup contender. He was the best defenseman in that era for the Rangers, but eventually the team decided to rebuild, and traded him to the Lightning ahead of the 2018 deadline after playing in eight seasons with New York.

From there, McDonagh became a huge part of a Lightning team that was a cup contender for many years and finally broke through in the bubble in 2020, then defended their title in 2021. He helped the Lightning get back to the Stanley Cup Final in 2022, beating his old Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final. The Lightning did fall to the Colorado Avalanche that season, and traded McDonagh to Nashville that summer.

Now, McDonagh is back with Tampa Bay and will try to add another cup or two before wrapping up his career.