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2018-19 Player Review: Farewell, Andrew MacDonald

Looking back on his final season in Philadelphia.

Edmonton Oilers v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

It’s a bit ironic that Andrew MacDonald’s most effective season in Philadelphia was also his last. In years past he was placed in roles that he simply wasn’t suited to play, but generally speaking he was a serviceable third pair defenseman this past season.

That’s not to say that the decision that they made earlier this month to buyout the final year of his six year, thirty million dollar contract was the wrong move to make. That “most effective season” saw him post OK results in a small role — and that’s not what you want to be spending $5,000,000 of your salary cap on.


By The Numbers

Basic Stats

Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Shots on Goal Shooting Percentage
Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Shots on Goal Shooting Percentage
47 0 9 9 18 41 0

Forty-seven games played; how fitting. The last time MacDonald scored a goal for the Flyers was during the first round of the 2018 NHL playoffs, when he scored on Matt Murray and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Fun fact: Sean Couturier was the only Flyer to score more goals than MacDonald in that series. That was such an enjoyable series.

5v5 Individual Stats

Points/60 Primary Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
Points/60 Primary Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
0.55 0.27 9.2 0.16

5v5 On-Ice Stats

Corsi For % Corsi For % RelTM Expected Goals For % Expected Goals For % RelTM Goals For % PDO
Corsi For % Corsi For % RelTM Expected Goals For % Expected Goals For % RelTM Goals For % PDO
47.48 0.23 48.25 0.16 44.51 99.22
Shot metrics are Corsica-adjusted

For the first time in his Flyers career MacDonald had positive shot impacts, both weighted and unweighted, relative to the rest of the team. And it wasn’t because he started less of his shifts in the defense zone than he had in previous years, it was more due to the fact that when he played — which wasn’t much — he was given easier match-ups than he had been used to seeing. It finally seemed to click that MacDonald shouldn’t be playing top-four minutes in this league. It’s admittedly a low bar, the Flyers still did get out-shot and out-chanced with him on the ice, but there were worse defensemen on the team this year.

There were signs that he could perform well in a lesser role going back to last season. In-fact, in our season review a year ago we mentioned this possibility:

MacDonald’s final games during the 2017-18 season gave us a glimpse of what he can do when paired with an above average puck mover and receiving sheltered, bottom pairing minutes. Luckily for us, it seems possible that this combination could continue into next season ...

What’s even more interesting is that he didn’t even need an above average puck mover to find success in that role! His most common partner last season was Radko Gudas, who’s puck skills don’t exactly pop off the page, yet the two boasted a 61.28 Expected Goals-For percent at 5-on-5. Maybe MacDonald could’ve been a positive contributor this whole time if he just hadn’t been used as a top-four defender. Or maybe it’s the work of his partners — Travis Sanheim two seasons ago, Gudas last year — that carried him.

Whichever it may be, MacDonald concluded his final season in Philadelphia without dragging the team’s on-ice results down, and we couldn’t have asked for much more than that.


Three Burning Questions

Did this player live up to our expectations for this season?

He did. Expectations were extremely low, and he wasn’t a liability, so yes, he met and even surpassed our expectations. He played fewer games than we expected him to, but just about everything about his season went better than we thought it would.

What do we expect from this player next season?

He’ll probably remain in the NHL, sign a one or two year deal at a relatively low cap hit, and surely score a goal in his new team’s first game against the Flyers.

What would we like to see this player improve on?

There comes a point in time where certain questions no longer have an answer; this is one of those times. Sure, we could point out MacDonald’s flaws as if they haven’t been put on blast for the last five-plus years, but if the “fixes” haven’t already happened by now, they’re just not going to happen.

For his sake my hope is that whichever team he signs with doesn’t give him a role above his talent level. He wore an “A” on his jersey for a reason and is probably fine in a bottom-pairing role. But have him play up the lineup, and, well, you get the player that’s topped the list of buyout candidates over the last few years.

Data used courtesy of Corsica.hockey.

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