In 19 games, the Flyers saw enough in defenseman Andrew MacDonald to know that they did not want to risk losing him to the open market on July 1.
MacDonald and the Flyers agreed to a six-year, $30 million contract extension on Tuesday, tying him for the 21st-richest deal among defensemen in the NHL.
MacDonald, 27, told the Daily News last week that there was certainly “an allure” to making it to free agency in July - but that he was more concerned about his fit on a roster.
Turns out, MacDonald fits just fine with the Flyers. On Long Island, he was asked to play No. 1 minutes in the absence Mark Streit this season. With the Flyers, he can focus on playing his game as a quick puck-mover.
Is Andrew MacDonald worth $30 million over six years?
"He definitely adds an element that is very good," coach Craig Berube said last week. "He moves the puck well and he's got very good composure with it, too. When I look at our 'D,' we've got a puck-mover on every pair that gets the puck up ice. It's a nice combination to have."
It was clear MacDonald would require a hefty commitment - both in terms and dollars - from the Flyers in order to sign him before free agency hit.
Why the Flyers seemed hell-bent on locking him up on the eve of the Stanley Cup playoffs - and not after they glean a more extended view in a playoff series or two - is a question worth asking.
On the other hand, the only younger free agent defensemen possibly available this summer were Pittsburgh’s Matt Niskanen, 27, New Jersey’s Mark Fayne, 26, and Columbus’ Nikita Nikitin, 27. Many believe the terms of MacDonald's deal were under what he could have earned on the open market.
Now, the Flyers have achieved long-term salary cap certainty in a defenseman who is in the prime of his career, in years when the salary cap will be rising perhaps dramatically. But they also have signed a player who was earning just $550,000 over each of the last four seasons to a raise of 10 multiples.
MacDonald said last week he “liked what he saw so far” during his 6-week run with the Flyers.
“It's been great," MacDonald said last week. "From an organizational standpoint, the team has been competitive. As a player, that's all you can ask. That and to make you feel welcome. I've been really happy.”
He’ll be even happier now.
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