The Philadelphia Flyers made one acquisition at the trade deadline: They picked up defenseman Andrew MacDonald from the New York Islanders for a couple of draft choices and minor league forward Matt Mangene.
Many fans were less than thrilled with the pickup, but overall, MacDonald has been what was expected of him: a solid, if unspectacular, third-pair defenseman who can help the team in some subtle ways. MacDonald will rarely make headlines, but that doesn't mean he isn't helping the team.
MacDonald's statistics are also solid but not outstanding. In 13 games with the Flyers, A-Mac has two assists and a minus-two plus/minus rating. He also has 18 hits and 33 blocked shots to go along with 14 shots on goal.
MacDonald's biggest strength is his versatility. He is pretty good in several areas without being outstanding in any of them.
Flyers' defenseman Mark Streit, who played with MacDonald on Long Island, told Sarah Baicker of CSNPhilly.com about MacDonald's strengths as a player:
...He’s good overall. He’s a good skater, plays well defensively and has a good first pass, which is a huge asset. Then offensively, he’s good too. He can play on the power play, and on top of that, he blocks a lot of shots.
He’s a team guy. He does everything for the team. Whenever you have the chance to get a guy like that on your team or on your side, it’s a big plus.
MacDonald has played on the third defensive pairing with Luke Schenn, but he is capable of filling in on either of the top two pairings. With the Islanders, MacDonald saw a lot of time on both the power play and penalty kill. With Philadelphia, he has not seen significant time on special teams, although the Flyers know he is able to fill in when needed.
MacDonald has averaged 21:13 of ice time since joining the Flyers after averaging more than 25 minutes per game with the Isles. On most nights, MacDonald plays between 18 and 23 minutes for Philadelphia. But, against the St. Louis Blues on April 1, A-Mac played 27:25. The Flyers did not yield a goal in 65 minutes during the game.
Flyers coach Craig Berube has been complimentary of MacDonald. He told Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly.com that MacDonald is a "good skater, good puck mover, a smart guy. [He's] fluid. Plays lots of minutes.”
Defensively, MacDonald leads the NHL in blocked shots, with 231 total in 76 games. No other player has more than 194. In the playoffs, shot-blocking will become an even more important statistic as games get more intense, scoring chances tougher to come by and players become more willing to sacrifice their bodies.
Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated listed the Flyers' acquisition of MacDonald as a "winner" at the trade deadline. He explained that MacDonald's limited special teams time and third-pairing duties have made him "more effective during his heavy five-on-five rotation, and it’s helped him bring out a more confident performance from [Luke] Schenn. Together, they’ve provided a huge boost down the stretch."
But the two most important statistics since MacDonald has joined the team are these: The Flyers have allowed only 2.23 goals per game in the 13 games since A-Mac joined the club, well below their season average of 2.72. An average of 2.23 would put the Flyers fourth in the league. Over the course of the entire season, they are 16th.
Best of all, the Flyers have a record of 7-3-3 in the 13 games since acquiring MacDonald. That has them in solid position to make the playoffs and could set them up for a long run once they get there.