With last nights loss the Islanders were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. With that news, the Islanders and Andrew MacDonald decided to shut it down for the year as Mac had been playing through a hip labrum tear since February. We could get into the possible silliness involved with waiting until the team was eliminated when the playoffs have been nothing but a pipe dream. But the reality is we don't know what's gone on behind closed doors, or how much MacDonald himself might have been pushing to keep playing.
With everything falling apart around the Islanders this year, MacDonald has been one of the true bright spots. With the offseason additions of Mark Eaton, James Wisniewski, Milan Jurcina and Mike Mottau, Andy Mac's position on the totem pole seemed perilous. As the season went on and the new guys dropped like flies, Mac has stepped up his game to an unbelievable level. He's not only been the anchor on the top line, but he has helped to bring along Travis Hamonic who is having an outstanding season at least a year before people thought he would be ready. MacDonald and Hamonic are the only two full time defenseman on the Isles with a positive +/- this season.
This has been a break out season for MacDonald, and it makes the extension he signed in the offseason (4 year 550K) look like a complete steal. Andy Mac has done just about everything anyone could have possibly asked him for this season and then some. He has even done a competent job on the PP Point, racking up 11 PP Assists which is tied for second on the Isles. His leadership has been recognized as he has been wearing the A for much of the season. There has rarely been a bad word spoken of him this year, and even other teams announcers take the time to point out how well he has been playing.
Unfortunately due to the injury, Andy Mac won't even be able to skate until September. And that's if nothing goes wrong between his surgery and rehab. He will be sorely missed, especially if he has to miss games when the regular season begins. For the remainder of this season it looks as though Ty Wishart (who was called up today) will be his replacement. For the beginning of next season, at least on the bright side the Isles should have a very healthy Mark Streit ready to go.
It's been a fun ride watching Andy Mac develop into a top defenseman these last two seasons. When he was originally called up (discussion here) we were hoping that there wouldn't be much drop off between him and Brendan Witt, whom he was replacing. During the end of season report cards last year he garnered a lot of 8 and 10 votes, with people being pleasantly surprised. I'm sure for this season a lot of people would consider themselves to be surprised again by his ever improving play.
Along with the announcement yesterday that Mark Streit was officially done for the year, the Islanders have 4 opening day defenseman who are done for the year in Streit, Eaton, Mottau and now MacDonald. With 512 man games lost to injury this year the Islanders have over 100 more man games lost then Colorado who are in second with 385. Almost amazingly, or just to mess with everyone's prediction, Radek Martinek of all people just keeps chugging on.
Good Luck to Andy Mac and let's hope he suffers no setbacks. The Islanders need all hands on deck next season if they are going to make a push for the playoffs. He's gone from "maybe he can replace Witt" to one of the best players on the team and every game he misses the Islanders feel it.