The future is now for Ryan McDonagh.
We’ve seen the Rangers defenseman blossom this year into an all-around player who will no doubt be wearing a letter on his sweater next season and for a long time.
But it’s not only the writers and broadcasters who follow the team and who voted McDonagh as the Team MVP.
The U.S. Olympic brass felt the same way, picking him for the squad and giving him plenty of minutes---on his off-side!
And so do his teammates, who voted him the recipient of this year’s Players’ Player Award.
No Ranger has won both awards since Brian Leetch in 2002-03, so this is heady territory.
Henrik Lundqvist won the MVP for seven straight years, and is still the backbone of this club, which can go absolutely nowhere this spring without him. But this is not a lifetime achievement award: Lundqvist struggled to find his game in the first half of the season; McDonagh just grew and grew.
And the players voted for now-departed captain Ryan Callahan for the last three seasons. They recognize the fire, the talent and the day-in, day-out contributions on and off the ice better than anyone else.
So, indeed, they are well-deserved honors that underscore McDonagh’s value at 24.
Credit Glen Sather, who has his flaws like the rest of us, for engineering the lopsided Scott Gomez swap that brought McDonagh here from Montreal in 2009 and who also signed the player known as MacTruck through 2018-19 at a tremendous price: An annual cap hit of $4.7 million.