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Julien BriseBois: Ryan McDonagh deserves Norris Trophy consideration

Lightning general manager uses "tremendous" and "incredible" to describe McDonagh's season.
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh is playing some of the best hockey that general manager Julien BriseBois has seen from a defenseman.
[DIRK SHADD | Times]
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh is playing some of the best hockey that general manager Julien BriseBois has seen from a defenseman. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Published Dec. 31, 2018|Updated Dec. 31, 2018

ANAHEIM — Ryan McDonagh is playing some of the best hockey Julien BriseBois has ever seen a defenseman play.

"That game against Colorado in Colorado, I don't know that I've ever seen a better game played by a defenseman, maybe ever," the Lightning general manager said. "It was incredible how well he played that night, going against some of the best players in the world in Nathan MacKinnon and that line."

It wasn't just MacKinnon, BriseBois thought McDonagh has done well against. McDonagh typically gets the toughest matchups, against some of the league's best forwards. That means New Jersey's Taylor Hall, Edmonton's Connor McDavid, as well as MacKinnon and others.

"Ryan McDonagh and whoever has been his partner get those matchups and they've done a really good job keeping those elite snipers off the scoresheet," BriseBois said. "It's been tremendous."

Not that any of this is news to BriseBois. He's known how good McDonagh is.

Four years ago, then-Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman was GM of Team Canada. He asked BriseBois to go to a Rangers-Canadiens game to check out Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and P.K. Subban.

"I called him after the game, the first thing I said, 'Too bad Ryan McDonagh is not Canadian. He was outstanding,' " BriseBois recalled. "He was by far, the best player in the game."

He'd like to see McDonagh get some recognition when it comes time to award the Norris Trophy to the league's best defenseman. It typically goes to a defenseman with big offensive numbers, which doesn't necessarily point to McDonagh. Going into Monday's game, his 23 points are tied with D Victor Hedman to lead the Lightning's defensemen. But he's tied for 16th overall in the league.

"Maybe he'll have fewer numbers than some of the other guys but his minutes have not been the same," BriseBois said. "He's not getting the all the o-zone starts, he's not getting all the power play time that some of these other defensemen are getting, and he's getting the toughest matchups every night, pretty much."

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