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TAMPA — The Lightning’s offseason got more interesting Thursday, with a report that the team is exploring a trade fit for defenseman Ryan McDonagh.

The Lightning are working with McDonagh to see if he’d consider a trade this offseason, Canada’s Sportsnet TV network reported.

McDonagh’s agent, Ben Hankinson, said he could not confirm the report when reached by the Tampa Bay Times.

McDonagh’s deal with the Lightning has another four seasons remaining with a salary cap hit of $6.75 million and a full no-trade clause that goes through Jan. 16, 2026, midway through the final season of the deal, according to the contract website CapFriendly. He can become a free agent following the 2025-26 season.

His salary is the second-highest among Lightning defensemen, behind Victor Hedman’s $7.875 million, and the sixth highest on the team.

The Lightning protected McDonagh in last year’s expansion draft, opting to shield an extra defenseman as an eighth skater, choosing the eight skater/one goaltender route of players to protect (four defensemen/four forwards/one goalie), instead of the option of protecting seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie.

But next season’s $82.5 million salary cap puts the Lightning in a tough position. It is currently almost $2 million over the cap, according to CapFriendly. And it would like to keep forwards Ondrej Palat and Nick Paul, and defenseman Jan Rutta, who can be unrestricted free agents, general manager Julien BriseBois has said.

Free agency opens July 13, but the Lightning could make a move before that, possibly at the draft July 7-8 in Montreal.

McDonagh, 33, has been a Lightning cornerstone since he arrived in a trade with the Rangers in 2018. Following the 2017-18 season, he signed a seven-year extension worth $47 million.

A captain with the Rangers, he has been an alternate captain with the Lightning. He has never missed the playoffs during his 12-season NHL career.

He was so integral to the Lightning’s 2021 Stanley Cup title run that coach Jon Cooper touted him on several occasions as a candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. He received three third-place votes.

McDonagh ranked third among Lightning defensemen in average ice time last season at 22:27, trailing Hedman (25:05) and Mikhail Sergachev (22:28). Paired with Erik Cernak in a shutdown role, he also played critical minutes on the top penalty-kill unit.

Since the NHL began tracking blocked shots more than 15 years ago, McDonagh leads the league in career postseason blocks with 430. He has blocked another 1,555 during the regular season.

Contact Mari Faiello at [email protected]. Follow @faiello_mari.

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