ON ANDREW MACDONALD

Tuesday, 03.04.2014 / 4:43 PM
Anthony SanFilippo  - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter

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 long-time 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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