The Tampa Bay Lightning look even more like a leading Stanley Cup contender after adding Ryan McDonagh and JT Miller to their roster in a blockbuster deal with the New York Rangers just before the NHL trade deadline.

JT Miller and Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers headed to Tampa Bay Lightning
The league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning added JT Miller (left) and Ryan McDonagh (right) from the New York Rangers at the NHL trade deadline to shore up the team’s push for the Stanley Cup. (Image: Mike Carlson/Getty)

The Rangers were clearly in sell mode heading into the trade deadline, having dealt Rick Nash to the Boston Bruins on Sunday. The additional deals the team made on Monday made it clear that New York was looking to rebuild, and in the process, were ready to send useful parts off to true Stanley Cup contenders.

Lightning Strikes for Stanley Cup

The Lightning trade was their biggest deal of all. McDonagh is a strong defenseman who can also contribute offensively, and will slide right into one of Tampa Bay’s top pairings. Meanwhile, Miller can play either at center or on the wing, and the Lightning could potentially use him on any of their top three lines.

In exchange, the Rangers received a 2018 first-round draft pick, a conditional 2019 second-round pick, forward Vladislav Namestnikov, and two prospects. TSN reported that the second-round pick may bump up to a first rounder if the Lightning win the Stanley Cup this season or next.

McDonagh said that he was looking forward to playing for Tampa Bay, and that Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman had described him as a “good character guy.”

“I want to do whatever I can to help win,” McDonagh told NHL.com. “There’s some big expectations there that I’d love to help be a part of.”

The trade solidifies the Lightning as the team to beat in the race for the Stanley Cup. Ladbrokes now has Tampa Bay as a 5/1 favorite to come away with the title.

The Nashville Predators also bolstered their chances with the addition of winger Ryan Hartman, who they picked up from the Chicago Blackhawks. The Predators are now 7/1 to win the Stanley Cup, and general manager David Poile says that Hartman will be a key part of that run.

“We paid a hefty price,” Polie told ESPN. “But Hartman ticks all the boxes we were looking for.”

Vegas Knights Leave Karlsson in Ottawa

The biggest trade deadline surprise may have been a move that wasn’t made. The Ottawa Senators were expected to deal star defenseman Erik Karlsson, but a deal never materialized.

The Vegas Golden Knights (9/1) look to be the franchise that came closest to acquiring Karlsson. Vegas was apparently trying to work out a deal right up to the final minutes before the trade deadline, but were unable to agree to terms with Ottawa. Tampa Bay and the Washington Capitals (10/1) were also rumored to be in the mix, but nothing close to a finalized deal ever emerged.

The Golden Knights still added to their roster in the hopes of continuing their incredible run that has seen the first-year expansion team become a Stanley Cup contender. Vegas added winger Tomas Tatar from the Red Wings and Pittsburgh forward Ryan Reeves in an attempt to add some ammunition down the stretch without sacrificing the team’s bright future.

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