Now, general manager Paul Holmgren is doing everything under his power to make sure MacDonald's stay in Philadelphia isn't limited to just one playoff run.
MacDonald, 27, can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Talks about a significant, long-term extension between the Flyers and MacDonald's agent are underway, MacDonald said yesterday.
The good news for the Flyers is that MacDonald has enjoyed his time in Philadelphia. The bad news is the Flyers may be running out of time to sign him to a new deal, with just two games remaining in the regular season.
It is rare for players to sign contract extensions during the heat of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
"I'm not going to comment on anything that is ongoing," Holmgren told the Daily News yesterday. "It just doesn't make any sense [to comment]. We'd like to get something done. We want to sign him."
MacDonald is in the final year of a 4-year contract paying him $550,000 per season - just a shade over the NHL's minimum salary. According to Newsday, MacDonald turned down a 4-year, $16 million extension at the beginning of this season, paving the way for his departure.
"The year didn't go as planned on the Island," MacDonald said yesterday. "Things kind of fell apart this year. I kind of got the feeling things were going to be pretty different there. I knew I was going to be moved. I had a pretty good idea it was going to be to a contender. I'm just really happy it was Philly.
"I'm really excited to have gotten traded here. It's a big opportunity for me to get into the playoffs again and try to take a run at it. There's some teams that you identify that you'd like to be a part of - and definitely, this was one that I was hoping to go to."
The Flyers earned a point in 12 of MacDonald's first 17 games in the lineup. Living in Center City, former teammate Mark Streit has aided MacDonald's transition to the Flyers. It hasn't been strange, MacDonald said, parachuting into a team that he isn't entirely certain he's going to lay down permanent roots with.
"I like what I see so far. It's been great," MacDonald said. "From an organizational standpoint, the team has been competitive. As a player, that's all you can ask. That and to make you feel welcome. I've been really happy. We'll see if something can get done here."
Money could well end up being a sticking point in his negotiations with the Flyers. MacDonald would be near the top of the list among young, mobile, free-agent defensemen if he decided to test the market this summer.
The only young defenseman who would generate more interest than MacDonald is Pittsburgh's Matt Niskanen, also 27, who has netted 45 points for the Penguins this season. New Jersey's Mark Fayne, 26, and Columbus' Nikita Nikitin, 27, could also be targets.
The difference between MacDonald and Niskanen, Fayne and Nikitin is the others have been earning triple or perhaps quadruple the last few years.
To be clear, the Flyers are going to need to pay market price or higher, in the same way they did with Streit last summer.
The Daily News could not make contact with MacDonald's agent yesterday.
"There's always the lure of becoming unrestricted and being able to talk to every team," MacDonald said. "With that being said, I know Philly is a great organization and now I know a great group of guys. It's not going to be 'OK, I really want to go to free agency.' I think it's more about if I'm a good fit for the team and if both sides agree this is going to be a place that I'm going to be for years to come."
Mason still No. 1
Craig Berube laid to rest any lingering suspicion about his starting goaltender when the puck drops on the opening night of the playoffs: It will be Steve Mason.
Berube said it is more coincidence than anything else that Ray Emery (.658) has appeared against significantly stiffer competition as Mason (.519) needed rest over the last few weeks.
"I don't think I play Emery against harder opponents," Berube said. "You guys [the media] think deeply. Deeper than me. I really don't look at it like that. I really don't. I wanted to play Ray here. He's played really well for us against big opponents all year. I don't see why that would hurt [Mason's] confidence. I thought he played a good game in Florida."
With the thoughts of a goaltending carousel spinning, he was asked if he could understand why some thought it was a slippery slope trading assignments before the playoffs.
"I'm not Lavy," Berube laughed.
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