Andrew MacDonald

Former Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald to attend Flames training camp on professional tryout

Former Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald to attend Flames training camp on professional tryout

After being bought out by the Flyers in mid-June, Andrew MacDonald is getting his next shot.

The soon-to-be 33-year-old defenseman will try to make the Flames' roster by attending Calgary's training camp on a professional tryout.

NHL teams often take fliers on veteran players as they shape their rosters because it simply can't hurt. The Flyers are doing so this training camp with winger Chris Stewart (see story).

While he wasn't a fan favorite in Philadelphia because of his contract, MacDonald was one of the most respected players in the Flyers' dressing room. You'd think the Flames are taking into account what they've heard from others around the league about MacDonald and his impact off the ice.

MacDonald has played 586 career games and 23 in the postseason. Calgary has won just one playoff series over the past 10 seasons. During 2018-19, the Flames went 50-25-7 with 107 points during the regular season — second best in the NHL to only the Lightning — but were bounced in the first round of the playoffs.

Calgary has a pretty strong defense, led by James Norris Memorial Trophy winner Mark Giordano, so making the roster won't be easy for MacDonald.

The Flyers bought out MacDonald for better cap flexibility and to open the door for some of their younger defensemen to take the next step. With the additions of Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun, the Flyers have solid, accomplished guys to augment the younger group of Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Philippe Myers, Robert Hagg and Samuel Morin.

"This guy is a consummate professional," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said of MacDonald in June. "We asked a lot of Andrew and by that I mean he was a player that played the left side, played the right side, he'd be a healthy scratch and then we'd put him back in the lineup. We asked him to play with young players and mentor them and bring stability to our back end.

"He's just a quality person and a guy that played a very effective two-way game for our team, but we are in a cap world and we made that tough decision today to try reallocate some of those dollars to maximize our chance to stay in the hunt on some players."

The Flyers will pay MacDonald $1,916,667 in 2019-20 and 2020-21.

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Chuck Fletcher: Flyers are 'bullish on Philippe Myers' upside'

Chuck Fletcher: Flyers are 'bullish on Philippe Myers' upside'

Back when Philippe Myers was called up to the Flyers in February, it was evident general manager Chuck Fletcher liked the 22-year-old prospect.

The Flyers were rolling through an NHL-best 10-game stretch at the time and pushing for the playoffs. Still, Fletcher had no qualms with trusting a kid who had no NHL experience to possibly jump into a postseason race.

"The fact that he's getting the call is a recognition of what he's accomplished and that he's knocking on the door," Fletcher said Feb. 9.

Where are the Flyers now on Myers?

Pretty high.

"We're bullish on Philippe Myers' upside," Fletcher said Saturday in a conference call.

Some of Fletcher's maneuvering with the Flyers' defense over the past two days has revolved around Myers and his ability to jump on a full-time role in 2019-20. The Flyers on Friday traded 29-year-old Radko Gudas in exchange for defenseman Matt Niskanen (see story). On Saturday, they parted ways with Andrew MacDonald, placing the 32-year-old on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract (see story).

While Fletcher's work is far from done, the Flyers' defense is already rounding into shape, with visions of Myers taking a big step forward. The overwhelming point of trading Gudas was to acquire Niskanen, who can benefit the Flyers' defense in a variety of ways (see story). But the move also came to fruition with Myers in mind.

"Radko has been a very effective third-pairing defenseman for us," Fletcher said. "He's been a great member of our organization, he's competed hard and certainly we appreciate everything he did for our organization. 

"Going forward, we feel we have an in-house player in Philippe Myers that can come in and take on some of that role. He's only played [21] games in the NHL, so there could be an adjustment period, but having the ability to maybe slot Philippe into that third slot on the right side, we feel is a real proper place for him to potentially start his NHL career."

Myers, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound righty shot, was rated a top-50 prospect by the NHL Network last season. He's come a long way from going undrafted in 2015. He's quick for his size, a fluid skater and brings offensive qualities, as well.

He showed plenty of glimpses in his 2018-19 showcase.

Here's an early look at the Flyers' potential 2019-20 defensive pairings:

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen

Shayne Gostisbehere-Travis Sanheim

Robert Hagg-Philippe Myers

"Certainly if we can find a guy that can play in our top four that we have the ability to acquire, we'll certainly look at it," Fletcher said. "I will say that we have some really top-end young defensemen here that have the potential to grow into that role. If you look at Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim … Shayne Gostisbehere is a young man that's been very effective in his young career so far, and by bringing in Matt Niskanen, we feel that we have some quality defensemen.

"You're always looking to upgrade if you can, but it will certainly depend on whether we can acquire that player and whether even that player is available.

"In saying our defense corps is young, I do believe it's the strength of our team going forward."

Myers can make it younger and stronger. In just two days, the Flyers cleared him a path, as if to say: Here's a spot, go take it.

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Flyers place Andrew MacDonald on unconditional waivers for purpose of terminating contract

Flyers place Andrew MacDonald on unconditional waivers for purpose of terminating contract

Chuck Fletcher is certainly putting his mark on the Flyers' defense.

A day after trading Radko Gudas for defenseman Matt Niskanen, the Flyers' general manager placed Andrew MacDonald on unconditional waivers Saturday for the purpose of terminating his contract.

MacDonald is expected to go unclaimed and the Flyers will buy out his contract. In 2019-20, the 32-year-old MacDonald was entering the final year of a six-year, $30 million deal. His cap hit was a hefty $5 million. MacDonald was signed to the deal in April 2014 by then-general manager Paul Holmgren.

Per spotrac.com, the move will result in a total buyout of $3,833,333 with a base salary of $1,916,667 over each of the next two years.

The Flyers are taking on significant money with Niskanen (as well as reportedly retaining some of Gudas' cap hit) and are in the process of negotiating with soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Kevin Hayes, so Fletcher said the MacDonald move was about maximizing the team's cap flexibility. Fletcher, who spoke Saturday via a conference call, obviously feels there is more work to do this summer, outside of Niskanen and Hayes.

It was a difficult decision and it was solely cap related. I've had a couple of good conversations with Andrew — one at the end of the season and another one again today. This guy is a consummate professional. We asked a lot of Andrew and by that I mean he was a player that played the left side, played the right side, he'd be a healthy scratch and then we'd put him back in the lineup. We asked him to play with young players and mentor them and bring stability to our back end.

He's just a quality person and a guy that played a very effective two-way game for our team, but we are in a cap world and we made that tough decision today to try reallocate some of those dollars to maximize our chance to stay in the hunt on some players over the next couple of weeks.

MacDonald was banged up this past season and became a healthy scratch, as well. He played just 47 contests and saw 16:24 ice time per game, the lowest of his career.

He was often the butt of criticism among the fan base — in large part because of the contract — but inside the Flyers' locker room, he was a true professional and one of the most respected players by his teammates.

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