How the Philadelphia Flyers will use Andrew MacDonald

Still black and orange, oddly. - Al Bello

MacDonald debuts with his new team tonight, partnered with another scapegoat at even strength and pairing with Mark Streit on the second power play.

Andrew MacDonald's usage and performance was a topic of debate all season long among Islanders fans, with outside observers joining in -- mostly to rip his value -- as the unrestricted free agent's impending departure from the club loomed.

We've gone over the arguments here quite a bit (and satirized them even), but in summary:

  • He was used at the Isles top minute-logging defenseman, including power play minutes, and constantly against tough competition
  • His underlying statistics and possession metrics were bad and getting worse
  • By those numbers, every single Islanders players' stats were better away from him than with him

However, it wasn't always that bad, and anyone who watched him over the past four seasons -- including his coaches and other general managers -- would conclude there is useable talent there in a lesser role. Perhaps in addition to usage, it's a matter of coaching too.

Now that MacDonald has landed at a new destination, over at Flyers site Broad Street Hockey, they've panned the deal to acquire him but are trying to find the bright spots:

There's a definite decline here, and his last two seasons have been his worst. But he has shown the ability to post passable possession statistics in the past, and MacDonald isn't particularly old (27), so age is likely not the main reason why his numbers have fallen off a cliff during the past two seasons.

Anyway, how will the Flyers use him? Sounds like to start off with, it will be with another much-maligned defenseman at 5-on-5, as well as a familiar partner on the power play:

Luke Schenn is the former Maple Leaf who has never lived up to his draft billing at 5th overall in 2008. Mark Streit is, of course, the former Islanders captain who paired with MacDonald in his first couple of NHL seasons -- MacDonald's best by the possession stats, incidentally.

One thing to count on: He won't be getting the 25 minutes per game he's accustomed to with the Isles. None of the Flyers are used more than 22:30 per game, in fact most of them being well under 21 minutes, with Schenn logging 16:43. The "overused" theory about MacDonald should be put to the test in Philadelphia.

MacDonald, as these rentals usually do, already said he is "open to" re-signing with the Flyers. His initial reported asking price from the Islanders, something above four seasons at more than $4 million per, would put him with Streit as two defensemen the Islanders used heavily but then found surplus to needs when it came time for them to cash in on that usage.

That, friends, should make for some fun Metropolitan Division theater in the coming seasons.

But you can start tonight: The Flyers are in action against Washington, televised nationally in the United States on NBC Sports.

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