Whether he was too rich for the Islanders' blood or just wanted to get off the Island right away by not re-signing we may never know, but Andrew MacDonald was happy to be traded to the Flyers.
“They’re really skilled team and tough team to play against,” the newest Flyers defenseman said this morning. “They are very physical and good in all facets of the game. It’s exciting to join this team.”
The 27-year-old will make his Flyer debut tonight against Washington.
Coach Craig Berube said MacDonald would be paired with Luke Schenn five-on-five and work the left point on the second power play with his former Islander partner, Mark Streit.
Andrej Meszaros is the odd man out tonight.
Today is the NHL trade deadline and the Flyers are likely trying to deal Meszaros for a second-round pick to partially make up for what they gave the Isles for MacDonald. Boston needs a defenseman and Meszaros would be a nice fit there.
Both MacDonald and Meszaros are unrestricted free agents in July.
MacDonald arrived in Philadelphia at 11 last night from Winnipeg.
“It’s a great opportunity here and great organization,” he said at this morning's skate. “I’m really looking forward to it. It’s been a whirlwind the last 24 hours.”
He got a cram session on Berube’s systems and power play.
“When you’re a hockey player you know those things and go over it with coaches before practice and try to get familiar,” MacDonald said.
“You try to review it and get familiar as best as you can and gain some chemistry early. Just do the right things out there and be in the right places.”
The Flyers have had an eye on MacDonald for a while. They traded two draft picks for him and intend to re-sign him. He’s not a rental player. He reportedly was seeking a four-year deal worth in excess of $16 million before being traded. This is the final year of MacDonald's entry-level contract. His cap hit is a very respectable $550,000. Hence, a big raise is coming.
“It was one of those things,” he said of his contract situation with the Islanders. “It seemed like something (a contract) wasn’t going to get done for a while. I was anticipating [a trade], but once you get the call, I was kinda shocked. But I’m happy it was Philly.”
MacDonald said he would consider re-signing here rather than test free agency.
“Such a great team and organization, you would have to be open to a team like this,” he said.
MacDonald is the second-leading NHL shot blocker since the start of the 2010-11 season (666). This is the first time this decade the Flyers will have the NHL’s No. 1 and No. 4 shot blocker (Nick Grossmann, 146 blocks) in the lineup together.
MacDonald has 198 blocks. Kimmo Timonen said MacDonald is a guy who always put the team’s needs ahead of himself on the ice, even knowing he could get hurt blocking all those shots.
“There’s a different way to show you care about the team,” MacDonald said. “Some guys go out and drop the gloves and fight and back guys up. I’m not the toughest guy. I try to do what I can. Block shots is one way to do that.”
Berube said he has always thought highly of MacDonald in games against the Flyers.
“Over the last couple years, he was always noticeable,” Berube said. “He can skate, he moves the puck well, he gets up the ice.”
The plan is to also use him with Streit in four-on-four situations, in addition to the power play.
MacDonald averaged whopping minutes – 25:25 – with the Isles but won’t see those kind of minutes as a Flyer.
“In New York, we were thin and had some injuries and some guys had to play bigger minutes and I was one of those guys,” MacDonald said. “I understand that won’t be the same here.”