An Ode to Andy MacDonald
Andy MacDonald was drafted in the 6th round of the 2006 Entry Draft by the New York Islanders, 160th overall.
Hardly the stuff of legends, but he currently leads the Islanders in ice time and has become a key performer for a franchise on the road to relevance again.
And he carries a cap hit of just $550,000 per season.
Or at least, he does at present. MacDonald will be an unrestricted free agent in July and is inline for a hefty pay rise. One even Garth Snow’s legendary ability to get a deal done could be tested by.
The Nova Scotia native has developed in to a very dependable defenceman for the Islanders since making his debut during the 2008/09 season, logging big minutes for Jack Capuano’s side. In fact he is one of the biggest minute munchers in the entire league.
Only three players average more ice time per game than MacDonald this season – Ryan Suter, Dennis Wideman and Erik Karlsson – and the 27-year old has been used in all situations by an Islanders team looking to build on their first post season appearance for six years.
Whilst his offensive numbers won’t shatter any records (far from it – 14 goals in 247 games), MacDonald’s consistent play and ability to log heavy minutes mean he could perform a role for almost any team in the NHL.
Listeners to the Marek vs Wyshynski podcast will have heard CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormley talk about the Capitals need for a reliable fourth D man on Wednesday’s podcast. But the Caps aren’t the only team who’d welcome a reliable ‘number 4 defenceman’; with Gormley referencing a league wide shortage of available D man able to fill that role.
The end result is that MacDonald could be one of the most sought after free agents this summer, if Garth Snow can’t get a deal done with the blue liner before July 5th.
Whilst MacDonald might be a perfect pick up for the Caps, it isn’t unreasonable to think MacDonald won’t be looking at the Washington blue line himself when it comes to negotiating a new deal; specifically the 4 year, $11.2m deal Karl Alzner secured this summer.
Alzner also made his debut in 2008, but was an RFA when he sat down the George McPhee during the off season. Two years MacDonalds junior, Alzner has played 31 more games over the same time period; but has marginally lower offensive numbers. The two players differing free agency status could be a major factor in negotiations, as well as the inevitable rise in the salary cap, but the similarities between the two careers form a reasonable fence for the ball park MacDonald will be looking at.
Isles General Manager Garth Snow has developed a remarkable talent for getting great deals for his team though.
He convinced Evgeni Nabokov and Lubomir Visnovsky to not only come and play for the franchise but to stick with them as well. He’s also found a way to nail down key members of the clubs core before, nearly always on remarkably good deals.
The 6 year deal he tied John Tavares to may be the best deal in hockey, whilst MacDonald’s defensive partner Travis Hamonic was also locked up long term for a very reasonable £3.8m per season.
Whilst Thomas Vanek is certainly the most talented pending UFA on the roster; MacDonald’s role on the team can’t be underestimated, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Islanders working hard to keep him.