The Philadelphia Flyers entered the buzzing NHL trade market on Tuesday afternoon by acquiring defenseman Andrew MacDonald from the New York Islanders in exchange for a third round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, a second round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, and minor-leaguer Matt Mangene. This is a move that will turn out to be a huge success for the Flyers as they both fight to maintain their playoff position in the Eastern Conference, and as they fight to remain relevant in future seasons.
When it comes to what MacDonald will bring to the Flyers the remainder of the season, it is clear that his biggest asset will be stabilizing the teams top four defenseman. The 27 year old is a bit light at 6-feet, 185 pounds, but he has strength that belies this size, and has the combination of smarts when throwing around hits and efficiency with his stick to be a force in the defensive end for more than 20 minutes a game. When this is combined with the fact that MacDonald is also great at moving the puck out of the defensive end, is a great skater, and has played 25:25 per game this season, you have a guy that is an above average option on any team.
In terms of fitting into the Flyers’ defensive setup, it would appear that MacDonald is destined for a second line role alongside Mark Streit. MacDonald’s ability to sit back as the play develops and take on a more defensive role would complement Streit in a great way, and the fact that they played extensive minutes together with the Islanders in the previous two seasons will allow a seamless transition in terms of chemistry. They can be expected to average anywhere from 20-23 minutes per game together the rest of the way, and certainly will be a unit that can provide pop on the offensive zone and be efficient defensively against any team in the NHL.
Moving into the future, acquiring MacDonald is a positive move because his contract expires at the end of the season, meaning that he effectively has to earn a new contract over the final 20 regular season games and in the playoffs. The 27 year old has reportedly been searching for a deal worth $5 million per season, which could turn out to be a good price for the Flyers if the defender plays up to his potential and helps contribute to a playoff run. If not, then they can tell MacDonald to not let the door hit him on the way out.
Some will look at the draft picks being given up as making this a failed trade, but if MacDonald lives up to his potential, this will be a move that Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren looks back on with a smile. After all, two picks that aren’t first rounders is certainly worth attaining a defender that can help lead the club to a Stanley Cup and become a top-four defender for the next half a decade.