Flyers acquire shot-blocking defenseman

ASSOCIATED PRESS Andrew MacDonald leads the NHL in blocked shots and averages more than 25 minutes per game.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Andrew MacDonald leads the NHL in blocked shots and averages more than 25 minutes per game.
Posted: March 06, 2014

FOR THE second time in 3 years, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren made a splash to shore up his defense in the days leading up to the NHL's trade deadline.

The Flyers acquired defenseman Andrew MacDonald from the New York Islanders yesterday afternoon in exchange for a 2014 third-round pick, 2015 second-round pick and AHL forward Matt Mangene.

The deal was first reported by Newsday.

MacDonald, 27, was one of the most sought-after "rental" defensemen on the market. He leads the NHL in blocked shots (198), plays an average of nearly 26 minutes per night and has contributed a valuable 24 points from the Islanders' blue line.

"He is a really good player and a great addition," said Flyers defenseman Mark Streit, who was paired with MacDonald in New York during the 2009-10 season. "He's a good all-around defenseman. He plays really well defensively, blocks a lot of shots and contributes offensively. He's a really good mix.

"And he's really good in the room. He wants to win. He competes every night. He makes us better."

MacDonald, 6-foot, 185, was in Winnipeg with the Islanders last night and hustling to catch a flight to Philadelphia. MacDonald is expected to be available to coach Craig Berube for tonight's game against Washington. He will wear uniform No. 47.

Before leaving Winnipeg, MacDonald told Newsday, "Everyone was really looking forward to this season after the way we finished last year. But things didn't go the way we wanted and this seems to be a byproduct of that. It's kind of mixed emotions right now. I'm sad to leave but excited for what's coming next.''

In a statement, Holmgren said, "Andrew MacDonald is a solid, two-way defenseman who brings us depth and experience."

MacDonald, a lefthanded shot, was attractive to a lot of teams because of his manageable salary-cap hit of just $550,000. However, this is the final year of a 4-year deal and he will be due a big raise this summer as a free agent.

Since the Flyers gave up two high draft picks for his services, they are expected to re-sign him. According to a report from Newsday, MacDonald turned down a 4-year, $16 million contract offer earlier this season. He is a veteran of 295 NHL games, all played with the Islanders.

The Islanders' No. 2 defenseman is expected to be asked to play a much lesser role with the Flyers, which may benefit him. He is viewed around the NHL as a solid third-pairing player on a top NHL team.

With this newfound depth, MacDonald has made defensemen Andrej Meszaros and Erik Gustafsson expendable at today's 3 p.m. deadline. Boston is one of the many teams to express interest in Meszaros. TSN's Darren Dreger reported the Flyers' asking price for Meszaros was a second-round pick, which would offset some of MacDonald's cost.

The Daily News reported yesterday the Flyers made a "substantial offer" to Vancouver in an attempt to pry away forward Ryan Kesler. Multiple sources say the Flyers remained in the running for Kesler as of press time last night.

However, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported the Penguins have continued to sweeten their offer for Kesler. The report - which says Pittsburgh's offer now includes Brandon Sutter, first- and third-round picks, and top defensive prospect Derrick Pouliot - also indicated the Penguins believe the Flyers to be their chief competitor in the deal.

If the Flyers' goal was simply to hike up the price for their cross-commonwealth rivals, they certainly succeeded.

The Blackhawks, Rangers, Ducks, Blue Jackets and Maple Leafs are just a few of the teams to express interest in Kesler. If anything, Vancouver's surprise trading of goaltender Roberto Luongo signified the Canucks are ready for a rebuild - even though they entered last night's action only two points out of a playoff spot.

Kesler, 29, holds the keys to his destination, as he is equipped with a full no-trade clause. Pittsburgh is rumored to be his first choice and reports indicated he may have already waived his no-trade rights to be with the Penguins.

Vancouver is asking for an established NHL forward between the ages of 20-25, a first-round pick and a top prospect for Kesler. For the Flyers, that likely would mean the inclusion of Brayden Schenn, who already has a similar point total and is 7 years younger than Kesler. Schenn is not nearly as complete a player as Kesler, a one-time 40-goal scorer who was one of Team USA's best players at the Olympics.

"It's part of the business. Whatever happens, happens," Schenn said after practice yesterday. "I'm not going to sit there and try and read into things. [Today] might be a little nerve-racking for guys around the league. Leading up to it is just a whole lot of rumors."

According to a source, the Flyers also inquired with Vancouver GM Mike Gillis about acquiring defenseman Alex Edler, though the price seemed too steep for Holmgren's tastes as of last night. Edler, 27, is in the first year of a 6-year, $30 million deal.

To make room for Andrew MacDonald on the 23-man roster, the Flyers sent Michael Raffl down to AHL Adirondack as a paper transaction. He will be recalled when rosters expand today and will play tonight . . . Newly acquired forward Dustin Penner is expected to be in the Capitals' lineup tonight against the Flyers . . . Retired defenseman Chris Pronger, still collecting $7 million from the Flyers this season, was in town to meet with Paul Holmgren before the NHL's trade deadline. Living in St. Louis, Pronger has provided a pro scouting perspective for Holmgren on certain players and opponents in the Western Conference. Pronger, 39, said he misses playing hockey "less and less."

On Twitter: @DNFlyers


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