Moving the Unmovable: Andrew MacDonald


Photo credit: Amy Irvin (38Photography)

With the Flyers having several solid defenders coming through the pipeline in Shayne Gostisbehere, Sam Morin, Travis Sanheim, Ivan Provorov, Robert Hagg and even Mark Friedman. Of course, this is offset by the albatross of Andrew MacDonald. Signed for another 5 years at a 5M cap hit, he’s paid far more than he’s worth.

Of course, there’s no reason for any team to take him in a normal trade, so the idea of being able to move him like Nick Grossmann is highly unlikely. Instead the Flyers have two options, try trade him for a hugely underwhelming return and risk having to retain salary, or they try to put a package together that outweighs the drawback of MacDonald to another team.

First, the worst news of all has to be cleared, thanks to Paul Holmgren, Andrew MacDonald has a back loaded contract, which means that unlike Grossmann or Pronger, there is no hope whatsoever of pawning him on a Cap Floor team for the purposes of helping them maintain cap compliance. Of all Holmgren’s issues as GM, this mistake is easily one of the worst.

So, another way to dispose of the MacDonald contract is to find a team with a worse contract, but with shorter term and trade for it. Effectively, this could be like taking the Eric Staal deal off the Hurricanes to give the Flyers an Umberger-Staal-Lecavalier fourth line that would be more expensive than most team’s first lines. In a vacuum, this is probably the most likely option, except that due to Lecavalier and Umberger, the Flyers already have two of these deals on their books. A third one wouldn’t fit at all.

The next option is to find a repeat of the Nathan Horton situation in Columbus and trade MacDonald for an LTIR contract. So far, there are some injury prone players signed to long term deals like Brooks Orpik in Washington or Dave Bolland in Florida, but neither are on LTIR yet. If however one of them were to get injured, the Flyers should instantly offer MacDonald for the LTIR slot. While real cap space is better than LTIR because it can be banked, flushing MacDonald’s contract from the books is paramount if the team wishes to compete.

The final option is to use another asset as part of a deal to make the MacDonald factor worth it to another team.

For instance, would Scott Laughton and Andrew MacDonald together cause a team to give up a mid round pick? The Winnipeg Jets could use a left shooting defender. And because Enstrom-Byfuglien make a solid top pair, the Jets could insulate MacDonald in a lesser role with Tyler Myers or Jacob Trouba while using Laughton to pick up some defensive center minutes.

Could Laughton, a pick, another prospect and MacDonald combine to pull back a decent player with a full no move who possibly needs out of his current environment? If so, could the player coming the other way be Joe Thornton or Zdeno Chara? Both are older, and still effective, but in Chara’s case, his deal is longer as well and his cap hit is larger than MacDonald’s. It’s a bigger risk for the Flyers, but Chara’s recent leg injuries do make him a candidate for LTIR. Given the Bruins traded for Zac Rinaldo, it’s possible they’d also trade for MacDonald.

The Flyers are likely stuck with MacDonald for another season, but if they are lucky, usage from Dave Hakstol and the PDO gods make MacDonald appealing enough to another team that he’s moved in a Grossmann-Gagner type swap. Of course, that factor is why MacDonald is unmovable, he has something worse than an NMC, he has a long term, big money contract in a hard cap sport.

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