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ON ANDREW MACDONALD

MacDonald adds depth to Flyers defensive corps
Tuesday, 03.04.2014 / 4:43 PM
By Anthony SanFilippo - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter / Flyers Inside Out
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ON ANDREW MACDONALD

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 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 82 28 58 7 86
J. Voracek 82 23 39 11 62
W. Simmonds 82 29 31 -4 60
S. Hartnell 78 20 32 11 52
M. Streit 82 10 34 3 44
B. Schenn 82 20 21 0 41
M. Read 75 22 18 -4 40
S. Couturier 82 13 26 1 39
V. Lecavalier 69 20 17 -16 37
K. Timonen 77 6 29 5 35
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 33 18 7 .917 2.50
R. Emery 9 12 2 .903 2.96
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