It’s hard to pick a place to start with Andrew MacDonald or say something about him that hasn’t already been said. To put it simply, he had another bad season and played too much.
Despite that, he had one of his better offensive seasons, statistically, scoring 18 points in 73 games. A lot of that had to do with playing with rookie Ivan Provorov.
And that’s never a good sign when a veteran’s play was actually better when playing with a rookie. Logically, it should be the veteran that’s guiding the rookie to better play not vise versa.
MacDonald plays a very conservative game, never defending the team’s blueline, and instead collapsing on his own net to block shots and box out players. When it comes to the latter, he actually does an OK job, but falling back to the last resort shouldn’t be the norm.
But more importantly, it was the second season in a row where MacDonald held back a rookie defenseman showing promise. In 2015-16 it was Shayne Gostisbehere and last year it was Provorov. Luckily for the Flyers, both prevailed, but it’s definitely an odd rookie trial that isn’t always set up for success.
I know fans would like MacDonald to be heavily in a roster battle, but he’s safe on the roster. Both coach Dave Hakstol and general manager Ron Hextall — yes, Hextall also — value him and with a defense getting even younger, there’s even more of a believe of a need for him.
Hakstol has played MacDonald with whatever rookie is on the roster. This year, there should be two of Sam Morin, Robert Hagg or Travis Sanheim. From past experience that means one will be paired with MacDonald.
While I’ve never been a fan of that strategy, I’m against it even more this season. Gostisbehere and Provorov showed the potential to be top-pairing defenders before and during their rookie season.
Hagg and Morin don’t have that potential and Sanheim is a longer shot to make the roster based on age and experience. While Provorov and Gostisbehere could handle MacDonald’s deficiencies and even excel with them, it’s probable Hagg, Morin and Sanheim would have issues.
That’s why I believe it’s pertinent MacDonald lines up with Gostisbehere or Provorov. Not an ideal situation by any means, but better than the former Islander with any of the rookies.
As for MacDonald himself, expect more of the same. Plenty of minutes with little positive impact.