MacDonald makes Flyers debut

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Andrew MacDonald, acquired on Tuesday from the Islanders, defends against Washington's Troy Brouwer.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Andrew MacDonald, acquired on Tuesday from the Islanders, defends against Washington's Troy Brouwer.
Posted: March 07, 2014

ANDREW MACDONALD knew it was coming.

After rejecting a 4-year, $16 million contract offer earlier this season, it was only a matter of time before Islanders general manager Garth Snow would find MacDonald a new home.

MacDonald just didn't know it would happen Tuesday, a day before the NHL's trade deadline. Or that the call would come while he was enjoying his pregame nap in Winnipeg.

Snow woke him up. MacDonald rushed to pack a bag and sprinted to Winnipeg's airport to catch a connecting flight to Philadelphia - where he played his first game as a Flyer in last night's 6-4 victory against the Washington Capitals. He was a plus-2, with three blocked shots in just over 18 minutes.

"It's been kind of a whirlwind last 24 hours," MacDonald said at the Flyers' morning skate.

For MacDonald, the next 6 weeks will be a whirlwind of a different kind - one pointed toward the Stanley Cup playoffs, which the Islanders made just once in his six seasons.

When it was all said and done, and the phone stopped ringing a final time yesterday afternoon, MacDonald was all Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren had to show for the NHL's trade deadline.

Holmgren dealt spare defenseman Andrej Meszaros to Boston in exchange for a conditional third-round pick before the deadline expired. MacDonald's acquisition would have made Meszaros, voted the Flyers' best defenseman in 2010-11, a healthy scratch for the 25th time this season against Washington.

"I think we addressed our defense and improved there," Holmgren said. "[There was] not a lot going on [yesterday]. We were active over the last couple days trying to get Andrew. We were able to finalize that. We weren't really looking to do anything else."

The pick from Boston can become a second-round selection this summer if the Bruins make it to the Eastern Conference finals and Meszaros plays in at least two-thirds of their game. Or, if the Bruins choose to sign Meszaros to an extension before the draft.

The Flyers will face Meszaros - expected to fulfill the role of injured former Flyer Dennis Seidenberg - twice over the final 19 games.

When you add the Flyers' two deadline deals together, Holmgren essentially acquired MacDonald for the price of Meszaros and a second-round pick.

The Flyers had zero interest in re-signing Meszaros, who is in the final year of a $24 million contract inherited by Holmgren in a 2010 trade from Tampa Bay.

MacDonald, on the other hand, began a 20-game audition last night for a new deal with the Flyers. He said candidly that he would be "open" to signing with the Flyers, but who wouldn't for the right price? It all depends on whether he believes he can grab a better deal on the open market on July 1, and he clearly has a number in mind.

MacDonald, 27, is playing out the string of a 4-year deal that pays him $550,000 per season, just over the league minimum.

"We believe he's going to make our team better," Holmgren said. "With an eye on the future, we have an interest in keeping Andrew longer term.

"Right now, I think we've got to sit back. We've had some internal discussions. Andrew just got here today. He doesn't know the Philadelphia Flyers organization and what we're all about. We'll let him get settled and at some point down the road, we'll probably have discussions."

Early indications are MacDonald could be seeking as much as $4 million to $5 million per season in a longer-term deal. He played mega, top-pairing minutes with the Islanders, but any stats and figures need to be taken for what they are given the Islanders' thin roster and overall weak team.

The Flyers will quickly get an idea of MacDonald's capabilities, even though he is a player they've had their eye on for quite a while.

Meeting with reporters, Holmgren denied a Daily News report from Tuesday that the Flyers made an offer to Vancouver for forward Ryan Kesler. He did, however, say the Flyers and Canucks did make contact to "discuss parameters."

The Flyers were mentioned as a finalist for Kesler - who ultimately ended up not being moved because Canucks ownership reportedly stepped in - by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Vancouver Province, ESPN and TSN, all echoing our report.

With Meszaros' $4 million off the books, the Flyers are expected to clear the $64.3 million salary cap (by approximately $296,799) without the help of long-term injury exceptions for the first time in the NHL's salary-cap era.

The Flyers' roster remains largely the same as it was before this week, with the exception of MacDonald. Holmgren said all along he likes his team as currently assembled.

"Obviously, I'm really excited," MacDonald said. "I left some good friends behind in New York, but obviously, it's a great opportunity here - a great team and a great organization. It's exciting to be able to join this team."


On Twitter: @DNFlyers

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