Philadelphia Flyers: Free at Last of D Andrew MacDonald?

Apr 24, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald (47) during the first period against the Washington Capitals in game six of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 24, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald (47) during the first period against the Washington Capitals in game six of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Blackhawks found a way to rid themselves of Bryan Bickell’s contract. Could the Philadelphia Flyers be free of Andrew MacDonald as well?

The Chicago Blackhawks and  Carolina Hurricanes didn’t waste any time getting the NHL’s off season off to a roaring start. Only three days after the Stanley Cup was awarded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Chicago Blackhawks traded Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell to the Carolina Hurricanes for the Hurricanes second round pick in 2016 and their third round pick in 2017. The Blackhawks gave up a talented young  forward in Teravainen but, at the same time, they were able to rid themselves of the Bryan Bickell contract. Does this mean there is a way for the Philadelphia  Flyers to finally be free at last from Andrew MacDonald’s contract?

Bickell broke out during the 2013 playoffs. In 23 games he scored 9 goals and added 8 assists for 17 points and was a plus 11. it seemed as though he was developing in to one of the hardest commodities to come by in today’s NHL; a power forward who can contribute offensively. So as a result, the Blackhawks signed him to a 4 year, $16 million contract. The only problem was that Bickell turned out to be a flash in the pan. He has only scored 45 points in the three years since signing the contract.

So the deal basically comes down to Chicago desperately wanted to rid themselves of Bickell’s contract. But no team was going to give you anything in return for a player who has under performed like Bickell. To entice another team to make such a deal, the Blackhawks were going to have to put someone else in the deal that would make it worthwhile for the team taking on  Bickell’s contract. So Teuvo Teravainen, a young, talented forward in whom the Blackhawks invested a first round pick and who showed signs of promise last year was the price they had to pay for getting rid of Bryan Bickell.

Which brings us to the Philadelphia Flyers current situation. Andrew MacDonald’s contract has been an albatross for the Flyers organization from the very day he signed his 6 year, $30 million deal. It is staggering when one thinks about the damage this deal has done to the Flyers organization. Not just the bad contract, but also what the Flyers gave up to get him. MacDonald was the New York Islanders fourth or fifth defensman, yet Paul Holgrem somehow saw fit to give up a second and third round pick for him. Most Flyers fans, myself included, had resigned themselves to the fact that we are just stuck with Andrew MacDonald’s contract.

But are we? Could it be that this deal between the Blackhawks and the Hurricanes serves as a blueprint that paves way for MacDonald’s departure? No team is going to give you anything for a below average defensman who will be making five million dollars a year until the year 2020. But, like the Blackhawks did today with Teravainen, if the Flyers throw  a young player along with MacDonald in the deal, will that entice some team to take on MacDonald’s contract?

In my opinion, it is definitely a possibility. And when you consider the fact that Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall has shown an ability before to pull off what seemed like the impossible, such a deal seems that much more plausible. Just like is the case with MacDonald, no one thought the Flyers would ever be rid of Vinny Lecavalier’s contract until he retired. But, to the surprise of many, Hextall was able to deal Lecavalier and defenseman Luke Schenn for Jordan Weal and the Kings third round pick.

Related Story: Lecavalier and Schenn Traded to Kings

So if the Flyers were to make such a deal, who would be the young player they would have to put in the deal in order to entice a team to take on MacDonald’s contract? Since the Flyers made the playoffs last year, they probably won’t be looking to deal any of the young players currently on their roster like Braydon Schenn or Sean Couturier. So we have to look in to the Flyers pipeline to see what young player a team might want from there. Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim and Travis Konecny are all untouchables so it won’t be one of those three. With the emergence of defensman Philippe Myers as another legitimate prospect, the Flyers system is now that much deeper on defense.

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So in my mind, the most logical choice for the Flyers to put in to a deal with MacDonald would be defensman Samuel Morin. Like Teravainen, Morin is a player the Flyers invested a first round pick in. The Flyers drafted him with the 13th overall pick in the 2013 draft. Although Morin isn’t as advanced in his career as Teravainen is, the position he plays is a more valuable commodity. Big, physical defensman who can skate, who have such a long reach and who have some offensive upside is a valuable asset. Defense is the most sought after position in the NHL. It is almost impossible to get a number one defensman in a trade because they are so valuable that teams almost never trade them. Morin doesn’t  project to be a number one defensman. Even with that being the case though, a huge, 20 year old defensman with a lot of upside carries a lot of value and is in demand around the league. With that being said, it is very possible that some team may be willing to take on MacDonald’s contract if they can get an asset like Morin in return.

And the most logical destination for both players would be Edmonton. The Oilers are desperate for help on their blue line. They are loaded with young forwards like Connor McDavid and Jordan Eberle but are very thin on defense. Even though he is probably no more than a third pairing defensman on a good team, MacDonald can act as a calming influence on a young Oilers blue line. Morin is a big defensman who is close to being NHL ready because he  has spent a whole year in the AHL. The Oilers could even pair MacDonald and Morin together and have MacDonald act as a mentor to Morin. If the Flyers could get a second and third round pick from the Oilers like the Blackhawks did from Carolina, it would be another coup for Ron Hextall. The Philadelphia Flyers would be out from under the Andrew MacDonald deal and would have two more draft picks to help add to their pipeline.

Like with any deal, there is risk involved. If Morin turns in to the big, nasty, shutdown defensman the Flyers were hoping for when they drafted him, you know there will be people out there who will bemoan the fact that the Flyers made the deal. But, in my opinion, when you weigh all the factors; getting rid of MacDonald’s contract, getting the additional draft picks and the fact that the Flyers organization is already deep at the defense position, it is worth the risk.

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