A Healthy Ryan McDonagh Can Win Norris Trophy
Okay, so maybe some of us jumped the gun a bit in handing Ryan McDonagh the Norris Trophy prior to the start of the 2014-15 season. Even with a multitude of talented blueliners throughout the NHL, it seemed only natural that the fifth year pro would take the next step after helping lead the Rangers to the Stanley Cup finals in 2013-14 and showing his dominance during a 25-game playoff run with four goals and 17 points.
When McDonagh was named as the 27th captain in NYR’s history prior to the start of the 2014-15 campaign, many expected he and the Blueshirts to make another run at the Stanley Cup and for the American-born captain to be hoisting both Lord Stanley and the Norris Trophy when June of 2015 rolled around.
After all, in his first year as Rangers’ captain, McDonagh led his team to the President’s Trophy and a pair of playoff victories over Pittsburgh and the Capitals. But when the Rangers fell a game short against Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference finals, it was revealed that the 26-year-old has played the final three games with a broken foot, limiting his ice time and his effectiveness.
So where do McDonagh and the Rangers go from here? While some believe the window may slowing be closing on the Rangers’ chances of winning a Stanley Cup, there is no reason not to believe that a healthy and determined McDonagh could win the Norris Trophy in 2015-16. The native son of Saint Paul, MN possesses all the tools, both mentally and physically, to compete and be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Duncan Keith, Erik Karlsson, and Drew Doughty.
He is more than capable offensively, is a true shut-down defender in his own end of the ice, and has proven his toughness and leadership while playing hurt and never making excuses for himself or his team, win or lose.
If the Rangers do make yet another playoff push in a very tough and improved Eastern Conference this season, McDonagh will be a big reason why. And if Lord Stanley ever found its way to Broadway, chances are he would not only be hoisting the Cup, but would be in the running for additional hardware as the Conn Smythe winner.
So could a Norris Trophy be far behind? FullTilt Rangers thinks that it isn’t too far off and that it could be just around the corner.