When the trade was made to bring Andrew MacDonald to the Flyers at the deadline there was a lot of doubt surrounding this acquisition and rightly so. At the time MacDonald was a -25 on the Islanders and had some of the worst possession numbers in the league for defensemen.
There was not a lot of optimism coming from me after this trade was completed. However, up until this point I am happy to say that my initial feelings about MacDonald seem to have been completely wrong.
Aside from solidifying what seemed to be a shaky defense, don’t get me wrong there is still a lot of work that can be done to improve it, MacDonald has completely elevated the play of Luke Schenn. I was pretty down on Schenn throughout this season and it seemed like every game he was prone to careless decisions and defensive plays. Upon MacDonald’s arrival there has been a huge jump in Schenn’s game from a purely visual standpoint. He seems to be more confident with the puck and has been very defensively sound, this has been huge for the Flyers. By pairing MacDonald with Schenn it seems that the Flyers have created a responsible and reliable third pair on defense which in turn allows them to handle more ice time and alleviates from pressure on the first two pairings.
I also like MacDonald’s overall style of play. I have to admit before the trade I did not know much about his play and only had the numbers to go by. He plays with an edge and isn’t afraid to take chances which sometimes pay off in big ways. Of course, with this type of edge turnovers may become and issue, but that is worth it in my opinion if there is a big payoff in terms of moving the puck up ice.
What we have seen from MacDonald has been in a very small sample size of games and it remains to be seen if his troubles with the Islanders was specifically because of their system. He does seem to have potential on the Flyers and if he continues to play responsibly I would not mind seeing a contract thrown his way.
There is one other thing that I would like to note about MacDonald that concerns the numbers I had mentioned earlier. Though I don’t put a lot of stock in the +/- system when it comes to ranking a player’s performance or worth it can say a lot about how we, as fans, perceive a player’s ability. Even advanced states and possessions numbers can be misleading unless used correctly. I think that MacDonald’s numbers are purely the result of his misuse by the Islanders and the overall ability of the team in general. He was logging huge minutes with them and it may be that he was not cut out for such a role. He was a top pairing defender on the Islanders and now, with the Flyers, he is playing on the third pairing and performing much better. Without knowing how the Islanders have been performing this year, it would be easy to rush to judgement purely based on his numbers alone.
I understand that it may be hard to not jump to conclusions about a player’s performance based on their stats from another team. I do this myself from time to time, but we have to trust the management’s decisions because ultimately they know a lot more about hockey than any of us fans.
Tags: Philadelphia Flyers