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ON ANDREW MACDONALD

MacDonald adds depth to Flyers defensive corps
Tuesday, 03.4.2014 / 4:43 PM ET
By Anthony SanFilippo - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter / Flyers Inside Out
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The first move for the Flyers at the trade deadline was to acquire New York Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald in exchange for a third round pick in the 2014 draft, a second round pick in the 2015 draft and Phantoms forward Matt Mangene.

The immediate reaction on social media was split. Some people thought it was a great move. Others thought it was not-so-great.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s probably somewhere in between and one that will require time to determine an ultimate evaluation.

What’s to like about the deal?

Well, MacDonald, 27, is a minutes eater (more than 25 minutes per game with the Isles) who, like other Flyers, is adept at blocking shots. He leads the NHL in blocked shots with 198 in 63 games, or 3.14 (Pi!) per game. He leads that category by a wide margin, with 27 more than the second closest shot-blocker (Montreal’s Josh Gorges).

The Flyers now employ two of the top four shot blockers in the NHL (Nicklas Grossmann is fourth).

Another positive is MacDonald is actually decent offensively, as he has 24 points so far this season, which is tied for 44th among defensemen in the NHL.

He also was a partner of Mark Streit on the Islanders and could see that pairing reunited with the Flyers.

The knock on MacDonald is that his advanced stats (puck-possession numbers) are not very good – and they’re not. However, there are a couple things to consider here.

1. He was playing top pair minutes with the Islanders, usually against the best players on the opposition. That probably won’t be the case here.

2. He played for the Islanders, who are not a great puck possession team to begin with.

With that said, it should be expected that his numbers in those areas will improve with the Flyers, although you can’t expect too huge a jump.

The other good bit of news is MacDonald is very inexpensive, carrying a cap hit of just $550,000 of which the Flyers will only be on the hook for about $116,000.

The big concern from most will be is a player of MacDonald’s ilk worth two decent draft picks, especially if he’s headed into unrestricted free agency after the season?

It’s a fair question, but one that can’t be answered yet.

That’s because the Flyers now have nine NHL defensemen on their roster and are likely to have to move one somehow.

If they do, and get a draft pick or more in return, it kind of pays for the MacDonald trade right there, and as such seems to make this trade that much more palatable.

I know we had the argument a few weeks back about the value of blocked shots and hits, etc. when we talked about Grossmann. It looks like the strategy here for the Flyers is that if they’re not going to be a great puck possession team, then they should have the people in place who can help prevent good scoring chances when the opponent has the puck, and MacDonald is certainly among the best in the NHL at doing that.

However, I’m pretty certain there are other shoes to drop here, so for now, the assessment is that it’s a move that can’t hurt the Flyers overall, probably helps a little bit, consider the style of play the team employs, and ultimately shouldn’t be viewed as much more than what it is – a trade for a second/third pair defenseman who isn’t afraid to get in front of a shot.

Michael Raffl, the lone waiver-exempt player on the Flyers roster, was loaned to the Phantoms of the AHL today, however, he will be recalled at 12:01 a.m. and be eligible to play for the Flyers tomorrow when rosters expand beyond 23.

To make room for MacDonald the Flyers loaned Michael Raffl to the Phantoms of the AHL in what amounts to a paper transaction. Raffl will be recalled at 12:01 a.m. when rosters expand.

Raffl was sent because he is the only waiver exempt player on the Flyers roster. He actually has to report to the Phantoms though, so Raffl is enjoying a road trip tonight.

To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email asanfilippo@comcast-spectacor.com or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 49 36 9 4 161 110 76
2 FLA 51 31 15 5 141 112 67
3 NYR 51 28 18 5 146 132 61
4 TBL 50 28 18 4 131 115 60
5 BOS 51 27 18 6 149 136 60
6 NYI 49 26 17 6 134 121 58
7 DET 51 25 18 8 125 130 58
8 NJD 52 26 20 6 117 118 58
9 PIT 49 25 17 7 126 122 57
10 PHI 49 23 18 8 117 128 54
11 CAR 52 23 21 8 124 138 54
12 MTL 52 24 24 4 137 141 52
13 OTT 52 23 23 6 142 164 52
14 TOR 50 19 22 9 116 134 47
15 BUF 52 21 26 5 119 137 47
16 CBJ 53 20 28 5 133 167 45

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 49 16 27 -3 43
J. Voracek 49 8 33 3 41
W. Simmonds 49 18 16 -4 34
B. Schenn 47 14 15 -1 29
S. Couturier 40 9 15 9 24
S. Gostisbehere 31 8 16 4 24
M. Read 48 9 9 -5 18
S. Laughton 49 4 10 -6 14
M. Raffl 49 6 6 4 12
M. Del Zotto 47 3 9 -8 12
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 12 12 6 .916 2.71
M. Neuvirth 11 6 2 .933 2.14
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