Andrew MacDonald certainly has his fair share of fans - after all he is the second longest tenured player in the organization only ranking behind Frans Nielsen (Kyle Okposo was drafted ahead of him in the same draft). He's also got a bit of a feel good story to him as sixth round draft picks don't exactly have the tendency to make it to the N.H.L. He first cracked the roster in the 2008-2009 season and has played in over half of the Islanders' games every season since the 2009-2010 season. Most generally view him as a consistent if not overwhelming player and for the past few seasons he's even played on the top defensive pairing along with Travis Hamonic. These are great positive attributes that add to a trade value that's higher than what it really should be and it would be a great time to move him while the value is high.
MacDonald signed a four year contract back in February of 2010 and it was a very favorable one for the Islanders - a one way contract with the league minimum 550 thousand dollar cap hit each year. That contact is over at the end of this season. One would have to assume that MacDonald would want something a little more lucrative this time around and might even request a little extra after giving way to the Islanders during the last negotiations. The contract took him past his restricted free agent years and he'll be free to sign with any team once the free agency period starts in 2014. The Islanders don't exactly have a track record of re-signing their unrestricted free agents; if they wouldn't negotiate with first liners like P.A. Parenteau or Brad Boyes then one would assume they're not going to be doling out the cash for MacDonald.
Even if they were to re-sign him, the Islanders already have Hamonic, Lubomir Visnovsky, Thomas Hickey, Brian Strait and Matt Carkner signed through next year. Matt Donovan is a restricted free agent and it's likely that he'll be retained as well which would fill six defensive spots on the roster. Also looking to make the team will be first round draft picks Calvin de Haan, Griffin Reinhart and Ryan Pulock along with some blooming later round picks like Adam Pelech, Scott Mayfield, Andrey Pedan and maybe even Aaron Ness. Reinhart and Pulock have already left an impression on both the fans and the organization and at least one of them will likely make the team next season. Throw MacDonald into the mix and that would make eight defensemen.
It would be one thing if MacDonald was still better than other individuals on the team that could be traded for parts, but the problem lies in the fact that he might be the worst defenseman on Long Island. His five on five numbers aggregated from the 2010-2011 to 2012-2013 seasons had him at a 47.8 Fenwick for percentage and a 46.6 Corsi for percentage. Comparatively the only individuals that have been worse than that left in the system are Aaron Ness and Joe Finley - neither are on the roster. To narrow down the sample size, his 46.6 Corsi for percentage and 48.5 Fenwick for percentage only beat out Finley and Radek Martinek among the Islanders defensemen last year. Finley has been buried in Bridgeport and it's unlikely that he nor Martinek will ever see N.H.L. action again (UPDATE: The Islanders signed Martinek just to prove this point wrong). Through the first six games this year, MacDonald hasn't exactly excelled. Here are the Corsi numbers year by year since his debut.
|MEYER, FREDDY||0.507||WISHART, TY||0.514||DONOVAN, MATT||0.507||VISNOVSKY, LUBOMIR||0.567||HICKEY, THOMAS||0.549|
|REESE, DYLAN||0.497||REESE, DYLAN||0.484||REESE, DYLAN||0.506||HICKEY, THOMAS||0.558||NESS, AARON||0.544|
|GERVAIS, BRUNO||0.493||HAMONIC, TRAVIS||0.483||STREIT, MARK||0.504||CARKNER, MATT||0.508||DONOVAN, MATT||0.534|
|STREIT, MARK||0.486||HILLEN, JACK||0.464||HAMONIC, TRAVIS||0.483||STRAIT, BRIAN||0.505||VISNOVSKY, LUBOMIR||0.518|
|KOHN, DUSTIN||0.479||MOTTAU, MIKE||0.459||JURCINA, MILAN||0.481||STREIT, MARK||0.497||CARKNER, MATT||0.513|
|MACDONALD, ANDREW||0.477||MARTINEK, RADEK||0.458||MACDONALD, ANDREW||0.472||MACDONALD, ANDREW||0.466||MARTINEK, RADEK||0.510|
|FLOOD, MARK||0.469||MACDONALD, ANDREW||0.458||STAIOS, STEVE||0.449||HAMONIC, TRAVIS||0.466||HAMONIC, TRAVIS||0.470|
|HILLEN, JACK||0.464||KATIC, MARK||0.455||EATON, MARK||0.432||FINLEY, JOE||0.447||STRAIT, BRIAN||0.440|
|WITT, BRENDAN||0.442||GERVAIS, BRUNO||0.443||NESS, AARON||0.421||MARTINEK, RADEK||0.442||MACDONALD, ANDREW||0.431|
|MARTINEK, RADEK||0.426||JURCINA, MILAN||0.428|
Some might think that these numbers are more reflective of the rest of the roster and not MacDonald, but this is not the case. The only players that he had a positive Corsi for percentage with last year were Anders Lee, Mark Streit and Hickey. He spent a combined total of 70 minutes and 51 seconds with them – hardly a large sample size given his 875 minutes and seven seconds spent on the ice. His primary line mate Hamonic had a 50.2 Corsi for percentage without MacDonald which fell to 46.6 percent with MacDonald. That points to MacDonald being the problem and when all of these numbers are combined with the fact that he's on the top defensive pairing, that means that the Islanders likely have their worst defenseman on the ice for about 23 minutes a game. Here are the numbers for each current Islander defender since 2008 with and without MacDonald:
|Player||M/S With||M/S Without||CFW||CAW||CFW
|CF% With||CF% Without||Diff.|
For individuals that are not fans of advanced statistics, his even strength conventional numbers were also poor. Per 60 minutes of five on five play last year he was 199th in points, 178th in assists and 156th in goals out of the 267 defensemen that played over 50 minutes. His best offensive attribute is his goal scoring and he's still worse than about 58 percent of the league in that category.
As the year goes by and the remaining year on MacDonald's contract gets shorter and shorter the return on their investment will likely get smaller and smaller. The team held on to Mark Streit last year and only got a fourth round draft pick for his unrestricted free agent rights when many were hoping to turn him over for a second round pick or a decent goalie. They have room to move him since there are already six defensemen on the roster and plenty of others are waiting for their opportunity in the system. The statistics show that these individuals should be able to step in and fill the void almost immediately and re-signing him would only serve to delay their development. It's time to start exploring what could be had for MacDonald.