McDonagh, who leaves school with one year of eligibility remaining, joins graduate Blake Geoffrion (Nashville) and three underclassmen – forward Derek Stepan (New York Rangers), defensemen Cody Goloubef (Columbus) and Brendan Smith (Detroit) – as Badgers who have signed NHL contracts this offseason.
Wisconsin's would-be captain for next season, McDonagh is a two-time WCHA All-Academic Team member, as well as a member of the 2008 WCHA All-Rookie Team and the 2010 All-WCHA Second Team. An assistant captain his sophomore season and tri-captain his junior season at Wisconsin, he was also voted the team's Fenton Kelsey Jr., Most Competitive Player both years.
A member of the 2010 NCAA West Regional All-Tournament Team, he skated for Team USA at the 2009 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship.
Known as a shut-down defenseman, McDonagh proved a man among boys on occasion during his college days, getting called for penalties simply because of his exceptional strength. He finishes his Badger career with 14 goals and 46 points in 119 career games. He posted four goals and 18 points in 43 games in 2009-10, helping the Badgers reach the 2010 NCAA Frozen Four championship game. He also chipped in two power-play goals and one game-winning tally.
McDonagh was originally drafted 12th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, but was traded to the New York Rangers on June 30, 2009 along with Christopher Higgins, Doug Janik and Pavel Valentenko for Scott Gomez, Tom Pyatt and Mike Busto.
UW coach Mike Eaves lost seven players — including his top two scorers as underclassmen to the pros — after producing an NCAA title in 2006, but nothing close to the situation he faces now.