Hunter McDonald signs entry level contract with Flyers

Harvard Crimson v Northeastern Huskies
Harvard Crimson v Northeastern Huskies / Winslow Townson/GettyImages

After signing a professional tryout contract with the Phantoms, Hunter McDonald has taken things a step further. The Flyers have signed him to a two-year, entry-level contract that begins next season.

McDonald has appeared in nine games with the Phantoms since leaving college. He registered his first point against Providence and has two assists with 10 penalty minutes. The Phantoms control their destiny for a playoff spot. If they beat Bridgeport on Friday, they are in. If Springfield had lost their past game in any fashion, that would've clinched for the Phantoms as well. But it's always better to get in your way.

McDonald was drafted in the six round of the 2022 NHL Draft after his second season in the USHL. He played two seasons between the Omaha Lancers and Chicago Steel. McDonald registered six goals and 19 points in 90 games. He also has a whopping 183 penalty minutes. That is something he will have to clean up if he makes it to the NHL. He cut down his penalty minutes slightly as he turned to the collegiate game, spending the last two seasons at Northeastern University.

McDonald had 56 penalty minutes in 35 games in his first season. He paired that with one goal and 14 assists. He earned the Hockey East's Best Defensive Defenseman award in 2022-23 and was named to the All-Rookie Team. Northeastern named him their Rookie of the Year.

This past season, he dropped the number to 32 minutes, posting one goal and six points in 23 games. He missed 14 games this season due to an undisclosed injury. As the numbers show, the offense isn't where McDonald shines. He is capable of getting shots through to the net. He has five shots with the Phantoms, four of which have come in his last three games. Where he is at his best is the defensive end. The AHL doesn't track defensive stats, so it's hard to say how McDonald has fared in that department without having watched the games. But he is a physical player, that's for sure.

The Flyers have liked what he has done enough to offer him the entry-level contract. It's hard to see him earning a spot on the team next season. Developing further with the Phantoms is the likely option for him. While his skillset is something a team might like on their bottom-pairing, McDonald will need more than a handful of games at the AHL level before looking toward the NHL.