As the NHL rumor wire focuses in on 2014's hottest big-name targets, unheralded New York Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald is steadily emerging as the one of the most sought-after items on this year's market.
MacDonald, just 27, will become an unrestricted free agent in July, prompting Islanders GM Garth Snow—aware of his basement-dwelling team's poor odds of reaching an extension—to shop him as a rental.
Yet MacDonald is also no ordinary deadline rental.
Unlike most, he carries no overpriced salary cap hit behind as baggage; in fact, his mere $550,000 hit sits right at league minimum wage. He is, however, a very capable player, currently leading the NHL by a wide margin with 192 blocked shots and the Islanders with 25:33 average ice time.
The 2006 sixth-round pick is also far from useless offensively. He boasts a respectable 20 assists and 24 points in 60 games, just three points shy of a career high.
Per NHL.com stat database
MacDonald's relatively unusual and intriguing resume has attracted the eyes of a plethora of the league's boldest dealers.
A hockey source confirmed to CSNNE.com that the Bruins indeed have some level of interest in MacDonald while looking for a veteran defenseman replacement capable of providing the shot-blocking and stalwart defense missing since the Dennis Seidenberg knee injury.
The trade pool seems thin on defense. The Red Wings have some interest in Andrew MacDonald of the Islanders... But I don’t think they’d be willing to relinquish a lot for a rental. Other teams will offer more.
The Fourth Period magazine claims that Washington Capitals GM George McPhee could also come calling to Snow:
McPhee is also in the market for a top-four defenseman and could try to acquire a second- or third-line energy forward.
New York Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald has attracted plenty of interest from numerous clubs, including Washington.
Such a broad and open market is driving up the asking price enormously for a player with relatively little sample size and experience under playoff pressure.
Isles, justly, insisting on 1st rounder for A MacDonald. Low $550K salary a plus to contenders needing D. Lots of interest.— Chris Botta (@ChrisBottaNHL) February 26, 2014
New York Post's Brett Cyrgalis reports that MacDonald has already turned down a four-year, $16 million deal from his current club. Not only will MacDonald's winning suitor have to concede a large package in the trade exchange, they'll also have to fork over a nice chunk of cash to retain him past the next few months.
Critics point to MacDonald's advanced statistics as proof for the outlandishness of his ongoing bidding war.
His pitiful minus-15.06 Corsi rating ranks dead last on the Isles among players with 20-plus appearances; his pure box score numbers may, moreover, be inflated by his 1006 PDO (fourth-luckiest on the team).
Which team will MacDonald be a part of after Wednesday's trade deadline?
It could be argued that, money aspect aside, MacDonald is a poor first-pairing defenseman anywhere and frankly average second-pairing defenseman on a Stanley Cup contender.
He's attracted the saliva of so many other general managers plausibly based on cap hit alone—and that cap hit will be skyrocketing no matter what in just over four months' time.
If history has proven anything about the NHL trade deadline, though, it's that logic and reason rarely trump impulse if the urge to make a move is there.
A particularly motivated GM could easily send over a first-round selection or top-end prospect for one of the few available and easily the cheapest top-four blueliner on the market.
Andrew MacDonald's trade rumors are likely to become even more headline-grabbing in the coming days.