Defenseman Signing Day: Flyers ink MacDonald to big-money extension, Gostisbehere to entry-level deal

Defenseman Signing Day: Flyers ink MacDonald to big-money extension, Gostisbehere to entry-level deal

Sure, the Stanley Cup Playoffs start for the Philadelphia Flyers in two days and all, but there was some pretty interesting news out of Flyerland today that had nothing to do with the upcoming series with the New York Rangers.

The news actually involved contracts for defensemen that have generated a ton of chatter lately.

First, the Flyers announced this morning that they signed Andrew MacDonald to a six-year, $30 million contract extension.

You read those numbers correctly. MacDonald just got paid and in a big, big way.

When the Flyers acquired the 27-year-old from the New York Islanders in exchange for two draft picks on March 4, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren almost immediately made his intentions of resigning MacDonald, who was set to be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, known to the world.

So the extension should come as no surprise.

The numbers, though, are a bit high but those shouldn’t come a surprise, either.

The reality today in the NHL is that puck-moving defensemen like MacDonald are so coveted that they can get almost any dollar amount they command because teams are so desperate for their services. The fact is that MacDonald likely would have gotten a deal of equal or even higher value on the open market.

So while it may be an overpay by the Flyers, it very well could also be market value.

And let’s be honest, he’s a way more solid option on the third pairing than Andrej Meszaros, who the Flyers subsequently traded to the Boston Bruins a day after acquiring MacDonald, or Erik Gustafsson.

He’s helped somewhat stabilize the Flyers’ most glaring weakness.

Since joining the Flyers, MacDonald has four assists in 19 games while mostly playing on the third pairing with Luke Schenn.

In the end, they locked up the guy they always wanted.

And now on to the signing has you all giddy with excitement like little kids on Christmas morning.

The Flyers also announced today that they have signed Union College defenseman, and apple of Flyers fans’ eyes, Shayne Gostisbehere to an entry-level contract.

You may remember Gostisbehere, a Flyers’ third-round pick in the 2012 entry draft, from the recent Frozen Four - which was held at Wells Fargo Center - when he tore up both Boston College and Minnesota en route to leading his team to a national championship.

In that Frozen Four, he posted a goal, four assists and was plus-7 en route to being named the tournament’s most outstanding player.

In the title game against Minnesota, he scored goal, recorded two assists and was plus-7.

Plus-7 in a championship game against the nation's No. 1 team ain’t too bad.

The kid is an offensive machine from the blue line and, if all goes according to plan, should quarterback the Flyers’ power play in the very near future.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but that very near future won’t be this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.

According to CSN’s Sarah Baicker, Gostisbehere would have had to been on the Flyers’ reserve list by the trade deadline and signed by the end of the regular season to be eligible for the playoffs.

Instead, the 20-year-old, who scored 22 goals and recorded 60 assists in three years at Union, will report to the Phantoms and play three games with them until their season ends this weekend. Afterward, he’ll join the Flyers but just as a member of the team’s playoff practice players, also known as “the black aces.”

And that's probably for the best.

The college game is a whole different world than the NHL pro game. Let him get his feet wet with a couple AHL games and then some NHL practices instead of just throwing him into the fire of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against a hated rival.

This way, he can start fresh at camp in the fall and try to earn his way on to the squad.

After that, who knows where the kid’s talent will take him?

But, for now, let’s just focus on getting a win at Madison Square Garden, shall we?

Temple's Trey Lowe to redshirt as recovery from car accident continues

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Temple's Trey Lowe to redshirt as recovery from car accident continues

Temple head coach Fran Dunphy had a feeling some bad news would come regarding guard Trey Lowe's status for the coming season. On Friday, it was made official.

Lowe, a freshman who suffered serious upper-body injuries in a single-car crash in his native New Jersey last February, will miss all of the 2016-17 season and take a medical redshirt as he continues to recover, Dunphy announced on Friday.

"We all feel that this is in the best interest for Trey, as a person, a basketball player and a student," Dunphy said in a statement released by the university. "We feel at this time that concentrating on his rehabilitation this year will give him the best chance to come back strong and healthy for 2017-18. Trey will still be a big part of the team during this redshirt year, while continuing to work with our medical and strength team in preparation for his full return to action.”

Lowe was just starting to come into his own at the collegiate level around the time of the unfortunate accident. In a Feb. 17 game at the Liacouras Center against then-No.1 and eventual national champion Villanova, Lowe dropped a career-high 21 points. Though the Owls lost, 83-67, Lowe had made an impact and earned the trust of Dunphy, which isn't easy to do as a freshman.

A three-star recruit, Lowe played in all 28 games, including five starts, prior to his injury and averaged 4.8 points and 1.8 assists in 12.3 minutes per game. He would be a redshirt sophomore if he's ready to return for the 2017-18 season.

The absence of Lowe will leave the Owls particularly thin at guard this year. You may recall senior point guard Josh Brown, who was to be counted on as the Owls' leader this season, tore his Achilles tendon during an offseason workout. His status for this season is still unknown as he continues to rehab from his injury.

Junior forward Obi Enechionyia, who averaged 11 points per game last season, is Temple's leading returning scorer.

The onus to produce at guard will be placed on redshirt senior Daniel Dingle and sophomore Shizz Alston, Jr. True freshmen Quinton Rose and Alani Moore will also likely have to chip in.

They have just over a month to get ready. Temple hosts La Salle in both schools' season opener on Friday, Nov. 11 at the Liacouras Center.

Sixers' Ben Simmons suffers fractured bone in right foot

Sixers' Ben Simmons suffers fractured bone in right foot

As the Sixers get two bigs back from injury, another goes down.

First overall pick Ben Simmons suffered a fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone of his right foot on Friday. Simmons rolled his right ankle during the team’s final training camp scrimmage at Stockton University.

Simmons underwent an X-ray and MRI on his right foot and ankle. Sixers head physician Dr. Christopher Dodson and Sixers chief medical officer and co-chief of sports medicine orthopedics at New York's Mount Sinai Medical Center Dr. Jonathan Glashow reviewed the images.

Simmons’ timetable to return is to be determined. The Sixers are considering further medical evaluation and treatment options. 

Landing the number one pick and selecting Simmons was the highlight of the Sixers’ next chapter. They were supposed to be healthy this time around as they entered a new phase following a 10-72 season. 

The news of the fracture adds to years of injury-related setbacks. Nerlens Noel missed his entire rookie season rehabbing from an ACL injury. After undergoing two foot injuries in as many years, the 2014 third overall pick Joel Embiid is slated to make his NBA debut Oct. 4 against the Celtics in preseason action. Jahlil Okafor is also expected to play next Tuesday for the first time since his season-ending knee surgery in March. 

The Sixers drafted Simmons to become a focal point of their system. At 6-foot-10, 250 pounds, he is a point-forward with the potential to change the look of a lineup. During training camp Brown experimented with multiple combinations, including playing Simmons at the point, shooting guard and small forward. 

Brown called the two-three combination of Simmons and Dario Saric “6-10, do-alls” (see story)

Simmons, 20, impressed his teammates during camp. In just four days of practices, it was easy for them to see how Simmons would improve the Sixers. 

“He’s really physical,” Joel Embiid said. “He’s just a big presence. When he pushes the ball, you can feel it. He makes you want to go with him. … He’s so fast and he’s so big.” 

Said Nerlens Noel, “He just plays basketball the right way. When your big man does that, it makes it a lot easier because he is very versatile being a point-forward type. That opens up a lot of things for him to be able to open up for his teammates."

The Sixers will be faced with filling a role they haven’t actually had yet. They had gameplans of how to utilize Simmons, but they were implemented only in training camp. The Sixers have a frontcourt logjam which will allow them to plug in other players at the power forward spot. They also can fill his experimented role on the wings with traditional shooters. But his absence will eliminate versatile lineups in which players are essentially “positionless,” a Warriors-style of play that causes mismatches of size and skills. 

Even though the Sixers have an abundance of bigs, Embiid and Okafor will be monitored for minutes at the start of the season. Throw in Simmons’ injury and this creates opportunities for other frontcourt players such as Richaun Holmes and Elton Brand. With Simmons absence, there also could be more minutes for Saric to play his natural position at power forward. 

Simmons wasn’t letting himself get too far ahead as he entered his first NBA season. He has been taking each day one at a time with an excitement of the newness of his rookie year.

“I think it’s still surreal for me,” Simmons said on Media Day. “I think it’ll finally hit me once I step on the court matched up against OKC the first game.”

Now it remains to be seen when Simmons will play his first game.