Apr 5, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald (47) handles the puck during the second period against the Boston Bruins at TD Banknorth Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Cause and Effect: The Andrew MacDonald Signing

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Let’s talk about the Andrew MacDonald signing. Tuesday morning, MacDonald signed a $30 million contract extension to stay in Philadelphia for the next six years. Whether you like it or not, MacDonald is in orange and black for the foreseeable future, but what few people are discussing are what this signing means in the coming months for the Flyers.

Kimmo Timonen. 

The biggest, and most immediate issue, is whether or not Kimmo Timonen will return for his 16th season. Timonen, 39, has put together another solid year and, as always, has brought great stability to the defensive unit. He has quarterbacked the first power play unit and played big minutes on the penalty kill. In short, he’s a valuable asset who looks like he is on his way to retirement with the MacDonald signing.

Timonen’s contract – worth $6 million annually – expires at the end of the season and unless he is willing to sign a generous team-friendly deal, his future in Philadelphia does not look too promising. If Timonen does retire, this leaves the Flyers with five signed defensemen going into training camp.

Nicklas Grossmann. 

Dec 31, 2013; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossmann (8) warms up against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Flyers won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Nicklas Grossmann has been the scorn of many Flyers fans this season. Some declare he is a one-dimensional player with no offensive prowess. Others cite his poor skating ability as a hindrance to the defensive unit. Prior to MacDonald joining the club, I believed this would be Grossmann’s final year in Philadelphia. Despite his enormous amount of playing time, he does not seem to be a long-term fit  for head coach Craig Berube’s style, which includes lots of skating. MacDonald does the same job Grossmann does in blocking shots but is much more agile and possesses a better offensive game.

Affect on the salary cap. 

While the Flyers will go into the off season with some room to breathe and a decent amount of salary coming off the books, there are still several factors to consider. Numerous contracts will spike when the new season begins in the summer. Claude Giroux’s cap hit will shoot up to $8.25 million a year. Matt Read will begin making $3.625 million a year and Steve Mason’s cap hit will jump to $4.1 million. With MacDonald’s cap hit set at $5 million that somewhat hinders what the Flyers can do with the extra cash.

One scenario they should consider is signing a bona fide scorer for Claude Giroux.

Scott Hartnell does a great job at driving the play, but he is too streaky and will never be a threat to opposing goaltenders. Jakub Voracek possesses great playmaking ability and can shield the puck, but he tends to pass first more times than not. Giroux needs a scorer who can match his playmaking abilities.

The free agent market looks ripe for the pickings. Aside from Thomas Vanek, Matt Moulson, and Jarome Iginla are in the final years of their contracts. Do not be fooled by Iginla’s age, he just finished his 12th thirty-goal season in the last 13 years. 

Vanek and Moulson have multiple thirty-goal seasons under their belt and could help Giroux win the scoring title in the future. Each of the three men listed will not come cheap and the MacDonald deal, along wit filling the other voids in the lineup, could be a huge factor in whether or not the Flyers can pursue these prized free-agents.

Defensive prospects in the wings. 

With five defensemen signed, and Grossmann likely on his way out, that leaves two spots open on the blue line. One way to fill the void would be through trades. Brayden Schenn’s name has been tossed around in rumors – and our very own David Quackenbos believes Schenn has a strong chance of being traded in the off season –  but not a single one has gained any traction.

Another move could be from the inside. Friday morning, I had a small conversation with Michael DeNicola of the Orange and Black Pack, who brought up two youngsters who could impress when training camp opens.

obp

 

EliteProspects.com gave Hagg a glowing review and gives Flyers fans a reason to be excited for Hagg’s untapped potential:

A two-way defenseman. Hägg is capable of playing a pure defensive role, logging big minutes on the penalty kill, as well as contributing offensively and being valuable in power play situations. Furthermore, Hägg has good size and strength, very good vision, a heavy release and is also a mobile defenseman. Some consistency issues, although Hägg usually makes smarter plays while playing in the big league, rather than in the juniors. Lots of potential (EP, 2013)

I have been following Robert Hagg sporadically throughout the year and have heard many great things about him. The 19-year-old blueliner somehow fell to the Flyers at the 41st pick at the 2013 draft. Hagg dropped into the second round, but was touted by several as a late first-round pick. His consistency raises concerns but is a mobile defenseman with size – 6’2″, 207 –  and can lay the body as well as jump start the offense with his passing. Hagg also opened eyes during the 2013 World Junior Championships with his great passing abilities and shut-down defense. He signed an entry-level deal with the Flyers back on Mar. 21.

Mark Alt was acquired in the Brain Boucher trade. He and Hagg have a similar builds – Alt is 6’4″, 201 – but Alt is a right-handed shot. He has the athletic pedigree – his father played for the Kansas City Chiefs – and has four goals and 24 points through 74 games with the Adirondack Phantoms. Here is HockeysFuture.com’s assessment of Alt’s talent:

Alt was a two-sport star in high school, as he led Cretin-Derham to a state title as a quarterback in football. The son of former Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Jon Alt, he was entertaining offers to play football in college until late in the spring, when he committed to playing hockey at the University of Minnesota. Like his father, Alt is a tall man but despite his height is a fluid skater who has good speed and agility. Having not yet played at a higher level of hockey, he is still raw in terms of tactical play and positioning but is a strong two-way player according to scouts who’ve seen him play.

Both Hagg and Alt had two-point nights during their most recent game.

You can view Hagg’s World Junior highlights here:


 @TomFoti

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Tags: Andrew MacDonald Claude Giroux Kimmo Timonen Matt Read Philadelphia Flyers Steve Mason

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