Andrew MacDonald’s contract pays him in the top how many NHL players?

Andrew MacDonald’s contract pays him in the top how many NHL players?

With the ink still drying on the new deal signed on Tuesday, Andrew MacDonald is currently scheduled to be paid as one of the top 100 players in the NHL next season. Let that sink in for a moment.

You don’t have to be a hockey salary cap expert to figure out why MacDonald’s six-year, $30 million contract extension with the Philadelphia Flyers is a tad startling. Beginning next season, when the extension takes effect, the 27-year-old defenseman is set to become the third-highest paid player in orange and black annually behind Claude Giroux and Mark Streit according to CapGeek.com.

MacDonald seemingly has been a better addition for the Flyers than most were willing to give credit when general manager Paul Holmgren sent second- and third-round picks to the Islanders in a deadline trade. The guy is basically as advertised—he logs a lot of minutes, led the league in blocked shots and is pretty savvy with the puck in his own end.

But was that unspectacular skillset really worthy of a pact indicative of a building block of this franchise? If we were to go off the over-simplified equation money plus years equals value, the Flyers have essentially determined MacDonald is more important to their success going forward than Wayne Simmonds or Steve Mason for example.

Compared to the rest of the league, the contract only sounds worse. MacDonald’s deal currently sets him up in a tie for the 21st-most expensive blueliner in the entire NHL for 2014-15, 90th overall according to Spotrac. He also becomes one of only 13 D-men signed through the year 2020, when he’ll be 33. That’s a heck of a commitment for a guy who puts his body in harm’s way more than most and doesn’t do anything very special.

Over time, new contracts will come along that make MacDonald’s numbers look more reasonable. After all, the salary cap is expected to jump over the next few years, which will inflate future numbers. If this deal was any indication, it’s already started. There’s a good chance he won’t wind up as one of the top 100 players by the time the 14-15 season gets underway.

I’m not sure that makes the contract any less confounding, nor does the notion that if the Flyers didn’t, another franchise would’ve awarded MacDonald a similar contract as Greg Wyshynski op-ins over at Puck Daddy. Wyshynski points out just how flawed that kind of logic is.

In 19 games with the Flyers, the numbers show they’ve been a better team with MacDonald off the ice. It was the same case last season when MacDonald was with the Islanders, too. Broad Street Hockey attempted to pinpoint the problem in the neutral zone, but being a turnstile at the blue line doesn't seem like a correctable aspect of his game.

The money is what it is. It’s the Flyers and the cap’s rising. But six years is a lot of years for Andrew MacDonald. And that's now two Islanders defensemen that the Flyers are building their defense around.

The other former Islanders defenseman is Streit of course, who at least adds some scoring punch to the unit. His 44 points led Philly D-men and were tied for 14th among all NHL blueliners this season.

In MacDonald, we’re talking about a player that Islanders fans were thankful to be rid of—and they don’t have a whole lot else to be thankful for. At 6’0”, 185 pounds, he’s not particularly big. He did set a career high with 28 points in 13-14, but with four goals is not especially threatening offensively. He isn't even a shutdown player in his own end.

Now he’ll be part of Philadelphia’s core for years to come, priced like a mid-tier if not a upper-echelon defenseman. Flyers gonna Flyers, as they say.

La Salle suffers demoralizing loss to struggling UMass

usa-john-giannini-la-salle-baskebtall.jpg
USA Today Images

La Salle suffers demoralizing loss to struggling UMass

AMHERST, Mass. -- Zach Lewis scored a career-high 37 points, including six three-pointers, and Massachusetts pulled away from La Salle 84-71 on Sunday to snap a three-game losing streak.

Lewis, whose 37-point effort was the best for any player in the Atlantic 10 this season, hit nine of his 16 field goal attempts overall and was a perfect 13-for-13 at the free throw line. Dejon Jarreau added 20 points and four three-ponters for UMass (14-15, 4-12).

Pookie Powell hit five 3-pointers and scored 24 points, and B.J. Johnson added 20 points to lead La Salle (14-13, 8-8).

Both teams shot similar percentages and had similar three-point totals, but the Minutemen finished with a plus-14 advantage at the free throw line.

La Salle remained within striking distance but a 13-4 stretch for UMass midway through the second half pushed its lead to 63-51. The Minutemen kept the Explorers at arm's length the rest of the way.

2017 NBA draft prospect watch: Malik Monk, Lonzo Ball lead the way in wins

2017 NBA draft prospect watch: Malik Monk, Lonzo Ball lead the way in wins

The Sixers acquired some more draft picks this weekend, including a "first round pick." Meanwhile, the Lakers still have the third-best lottery odds, meaning the Sixers have a decent shot of having their pick convey to them this season.

With that in mind, let's take a peek at who rose and fell this weekend.

Malik Monk, guard, Kentucky (6-4/185)
Saturday was pretty much peak Malik Monk. Monk can shoot and shoot he did, to the tune of 33 points in No. 11 Kentucky's 76-66 home win over No. 13 Florida. Monk didn't quite get 47 points like he did vs. North Carolina in non-conference play, but the freshman shooting guard scored a point per minute played. He shot 9 for 18 from the field, an impressive 5 of 7 from three, and got to the free-throw line with ease. He made 10 of 11 from the stripe. 

It was Monk at his most Monk, so he also had five assists to go with six turnovers. You let an offensive artist go to work like Monk and you're going to get a few turnovers to boot, and that's also to be expected when he takes some of the work left by De'Aaron Fox, who missed Saturday's game. Monk is almost surely a top-10 pick and should be near the top of the Sixers' board. He fits them like a glove if they can effectively build around Ben Simmons with shooters.

Lonzo Ball, guard, UCLA (6-6/190)
Kentucky wasn't the only team picking up a big conference win, as No. 5 UCLA went on the road and got revenge against No. 4 Arizona to the tune of a 77-72 win. Color exactly no one shocked, but Lonzo Ball had a big role in the win. He shot just 1 of 5 from three (5 of 10 from the field), but he was everywhere offensively. He dished out eight assists, picked up five rebounds and had just two turnovers. Defensively, he also provided two steals.

Ball wasn't just in the news for his performance on the court, which was certainly exemplary. His dad said that he would only play for the Lakers next year, causing an uproar before he somewhat walked back the comments. It would certainly be entertaining to see the Calif. native be the future point guard of the Lakers under the tutelage of new president of basketball operations Magic Johnson, but Ball doesn't have the clout to force his way to LA. Heck, the Lakers may not even have their pick come June.

Jayson Tatum, forward, Duke (6-8/204)
While Monk and Ball led their squads to wins on Saturday, Jayson Tatum was unable to do the same. He was stifled along with his No. 10 Duke Blue Devils in a 55-50 loss at Miami. The Hurricanes are the type of team that can give Tatum fits because they're long and can provide the mobile athletes needed to stay with Tatum. Since NBA teams are literally full of those kinds of athletes, it's a concern for the freshman as he presumably takes the leap next year.

Against Miami, Tatum played all 40 minutes and was a paltry 4 of 16 from the field, missing all seven of his attempts from three. He did have seven assists to go with eight points, but it was not a good look for the freshman. Duke can't afford a performance like that from the top-10 prospect if they're going to make a tournament run. They'll need to see more of what he did against Syracuse on Wednesday (also a loss), when he had 19 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.

Josh Jackson, forward, Kansas (6-8/203)
Ho hum, Kansas won again. The No. 3 Jayhawks seem poised to become No. 1 overall after losses by Gonzaga and Villanova this week and freshman Josh Jackson is a strong reason why Kansas will be a No. 1 seed come March. Jackson struggled from two (3 for 11) on Saturday in a 77-67 win over Texas but he was 2 for 3 from three and made 6 of 8 from the free throw line. That's important: He's struggled at times from those two areas and is now up to 37.8 percent from three. Jackson still struggles from the stripe at 57.1 percent. 

He had another all-around game against Texas, too. He had five rebounds and five assists and was his pesky self defensively. This came after a 15-point, 11-rebound effort to go with four assists against TCU on Wednesday. Jackson is versatile on both ends and seems like he could fit on any team picking near the top of the lottery.

Jonathan Isaac, forward, Florida State (6-11/205)
The No. 19 Seminoles finally broke out of a slump and Jonathan Isaac made himself heard in a 76-74 win at Clemson. That may not seem impressive since Clemson is unranked, but road wins in conference, especially in the ACC, are hard to come by and worth celebrating when achieved. Isaac was highly efficient as he scored 14 points on just eight shots. He made two treys in three attempts but had just three rebounds, likely a result of Florida St.'s size and length sharing the load on the boards.

The lengthy 19-year-old forward had just one block. However, it was the biggest block he could have made. He denied the Tigers a go-ahead shot in the final 10 seconds and helped preserve the road victory. Isaac has an enticing talent for defending the rim and it's part of why he's a major prospect. FSU does play some zone, so he'll need to adjust to full-time man-to-man defense at the next level. 

Quick Hits 
Let's look at some second-round picks this week, with the Sixers' additions to their treasure chest of picks.

While Arizona lost to UCLA, sophomore guard Alonzo Trier was on fire for much of the game, making 11 of 14 shots en route to a game-high 28 points. Trier has clear offensive talent but has some questions after a PED suspension to begin the year.

Oregon had some heroics on the road this week and junior forward Dillon Brooks played his part. He drained a three as time expired to beat California on Wednesday and had 36 points in a sweep of Cal and Stanford. 

Let's stick in the area with Villanova senior Josh Hart for this last one. The senior guard has potential as a role player at the next level and an efficient 16 points on 11 shots played a part in 'Nova's 79-63 win over Creighton.