Although it was not the blockbuster that was making the rumor rounds yesterday evening, the Flyers made their first pre-trade deadline move of any note Tuesday afternoon, acquiring defenseman Andrew MacDonald from their Metropolitan Division rival New York Islanders.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) March 4, 2014
Heading back to Long Island will be the Flyers 2014 3rd round pick and their 2nd round pick in the 2015 draft. Philadelphia General Manager Paul Holmgren has a history of these types of moves, including one two seasons ago when the team acquired Nicklas Grossman from the Dallas Stars for the same compensation.
MacDonald brings a lot of what the Flyers need on the back-end. Although he may have been forced into it out of necessity, the 27-year old blue liner played more minutes than anyone on New York. He possesses superior skating and shot-blocking ability, something seriously lacking (especially the skating) within the Flyers defensive core. He has played all 63 games for the Islanders and has tallied four goals to go along with 20 assists. While he may not be the #1 defenseman the Orange-and-Black have been searching for since Chris Pronger’s devastating, career-ending injury, MacDonald is a solid upgrade over several members of the current group. He is by far the NHL leader in shot blocks with 198 (2nd place has 171) It would take almost all of the Flyers most valued assets to acquire the type of player (Shea Weber, Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty) that would immediately turn their defense from a relative weakness to a strength. By acquiring a value player for a a few draft picks, the Flyers have improved their team without drastically jeopardizing their future.
Another thing that this does for the Flyers organization is create a logjam of defensemen. MacDonald will most likely play top-four minutes, or close to it. This makes players like Andrej Meszaros, Grossmann, and even youngster Erik Gustafsson potential trade chips to help re-acquire some of the draft picks involved in the trade. Although none of these player will bring back anyone of substantial value, it’s possible that this was just the first of a series of moves that the Flyers will set in motion to sharpen some of the edges of their team.
With MacDonald, who has just one year left on his contract with the Islanders, comes a very modest cap hit of $550,000. Depending on his performance with Philadelphia this season, Holmgren could decide to re-up the new blue liner for multiple years, or allow him to hit free agency and try to solidify the defensive core in other ways. MacDonald will wear #47 with his new team.
When the front office has anything to say about the transaction, or any others, we will continue to keep you updated on the very active NHL trade deadline. The Flyers are not done, you can bet on it.