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Ryan McDonagh’s impact on crowded Lightning blueline

McDonagh's arrival drops Slater Koekkoek, Jake Dotchin further down depth chart

How did Vladislav Namestnikov find out he got traded from the Lightning to the Rangers at Monday's deadline?

While on FaceTime with then teammate Slater Koekkoek.

Koekkoek said he didn't have NHL Network at his Tampa place, so he and Namestnikov used the iPhone video chat to keep tabs on the latest rumors.

"We were both sitting on the edge of our seats wondering," Koekkoek said. "Then when we saw (Ryan McDonagh got acquired), it didn't come out what the trade was for a while. So we were both just looking at our phones and he ended up seeing it on TV before he got the phone call."

Namestnikov got traded from Tampa Bay (along with prospects Brett Howden, Libor Hajek and two draft picks) for McDonagh and forward J.T. Miller. Koekkoek was happy for Namestnikov, who scored a goal Wednesday in his Rangers debut.

But with McDonagh's arrival, another left-shot defenseman, that will no doubt make it more difficult for Koekkoek to find the lineup. Koekkoek is expected to be a healthy scratch tonight against Dallas for the ninth time in the last 12 games.

"We're gearing up for a long playoff run," Koekkoek said. "Obviously when you see (that trade), it kind of hurts you a little bit that you've got to move down the depth chart. But all I can do is work hard and get ready for when I get an opportunity."

GM Steve Yzerman said he planned to carry nine defensemen for the time being; McDonagh (upper body) hopes to play by next Tuesday. With no roster limits after the deadline, Tampa Bay can keep all nine, with the likes of Koekkoek, Dotchin and Andrej Sustr likely playing mostly when the team goes with seven defensemen. Injuries happen, so it's not bad to have insurance.

"We like all nine," Yzerman said.

If the Lightning put Koekkoek, Dotchin on waivers, you can bet there would be 30 other NHL teams loving to pick them up for free. Tampa Bay could still, in theory, trade a defenseman (though they wouldn't be available for the playoffs wherever they go).

"Your guess is as good as mine," Koekkoek said. "All I can do is come to the rink and work hard."

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