Updated 7 p.m.
Paul Holmgren pulled the trigger one day before the NHL trade deadline.
Usually, he does it a week or so before.
Tuesday afternoon, the Flyers got better on their blue line with the acquisition of 27-year-old Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald, a pending unrestricted free agent who was going to cost Isles GM Garth Snow more money than the team likely wanted to pay.
MacDonald earns $550,000 on the final year of his entry-level deal and is expected to be seeking at least a four-year contract averaging $4 million or more this offseason.
"Andrew MacDonald is a solid two-way defenseman who brings us depth and experience," Holmgren said.
The Flyers go into Wednesday’s deadline with approximately $2.38 million in available cap space.
The 6-foot-1, 191-pound MacDonald played huge minutes with the Islanders -- 25:25 a game -- and leads the NHL with 198 blocked shots.
Since the start of the 2010-11 season, MacDonald is second in the NHL in total blocks with 666. Only the Rangers’ Dan Girardi has more, with 675.
Along with Nick Grossmann (146), the Flyers now have two of the top four shot-blockers in the league on their blue line.
The Flyers gave the Isles prospect Matt Mangene, a forward, and a pair of draft picks -- a third-rounder in 2014 and second-rounder in 2015.
Recall Holmgren gave Dallas second- and third-round picks for Grossmann back in 2012.
Tuesday’s trade makes it even more likely that the Flyers will move Andrej Meszaros, if they can, Wednesday at the deadline. He is an unrestricted free agent this summer and comes with a $4 million cap hit. Boston, which has just four veterans of consequence, has interest in Meszaros.
MacDonald played parts of three seasons with current Flyer and former Islander Mark Streit in a defensive pairing.
“He’s a great addition for our team,” Streit said. “He’s a good, all-around defenseman. He plays well defensively, blocks a lot of shots and has a good first pass. It’s a really good mix.
“It’s good for the [dressing] room, too. He wants to win and he competes every night. He’s going to make our team better.”
Streit texted MacDonald as he was heading to the airport in Winnipeg, where the Isles were playing on Tuesday.
“He seems excited [to be coming here],” Streit said. “He’s a young player. It’s the first time he’s been traded.”
Streit said he was wondering whether coach Craig Berube will pair MacDonald with himself.
"He's a good two-way player who moves well,” Berube said. “Not sure who I'll pair him with."
MacDonald could be in the Flyers’ lineup Wednesday when they host the Washington Capitals.
MacDonald, who is from Judique, Nova Scotia, is still feeling growing pains in the NHL. He has played four full seasons on a team not nearly as strong as the Flyers. His minutes will drop here, as will his responsibilities -- he always played against top opponents in New York.
He’s not Shea Weber, but he upgrades the Flyers' third defensive pair. Streit said MacDonald will be an asset down the stretch and take away minutes to help the other defensemen keep fresh.
"He’s a great puck mover and he’s a great skater," Streit said. "It’s a good combination, and I think whenever you have the chance as a team to make your team better, you want to do that. Especially when you have a big stretch coming up here, 20 games left, and if you look at the standings, it’s going to be almost playoff hockey for the last 20 games."
MacDonald was a sixth-round draft pick of the Isles in 2006.
A Flyers source said the team will likely attempt to make a “fringe” deal to shore up depth at the deadline.
There are also numerous reports linking the Flyers to trying to pry center Ryan Kesler from Vancouver.
Several sources say the Flyers are trying to drive up the price Pittsburgh will have to pay for Kesler, a player they once attempted to sign via an offer sheet during the Bob Clarke era as GM.
A Kesler move makes little sense given how crowded the Flyers are at center. They can’t even play Vinny Lecavalier at the position right now.
Additionally, the Flyers would have to part with a young core player. The club would prefer hanging onto as many assets as possible in hopes of landing an impact defenseman between now and the summer.
Because goalie Ray Emery has not been cleared to play (groin pull), Cal Heeter was recalled from the Phantoms.
Michael Raffl has been sent to the Phantoms and will remain there until the roster expands after Wednesday. The move created space to allow MacDonald to report to the Flyers.