Eyes on Isles Presents: The Deke Squad — Episode 1

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Dec 29, 2013; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald (47) shoots the puck during the first period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Preliminary contract discussions have opened up between Andrew MacDonald and the Islanders. Hefty pay raise notwithstanding, should the Islanders hold onto the NHL’s leading shot-blocker, knowing he will be shifted into a role more suited for his playing abilities once the defense situation is organized, be it now or next season? 

CT: Quality defensemen aren’t easy to come by in the NHL. Once you have one, you want to hold onto him.

Of course, not many would agree that MacDonald has been a quality d-man this season, but for $550K, I think the Islanders have a steal of a deal, a player that can play upwards of 20 minutes per game.

Now, if you say he should be played less, I would agree, as his sub-par play has been indicative of this.

RDR: I’m saying that. Yep.

CT: But wait. MacDonald leads the NHL in blocked shots, something that was praised a ton last year. In a reduced role (which he should get for any team he signs with), and not at $5M per season (which he may ask for), the Islanders would benefit from bringing him back. A lot of “ifs,” though.

RDR: Lots of “ifs” and some “whys” and perhaps a “No, thank you” for good measure.

Well, the whole “blocked shots” stats is quite misleading, Chris. On the surface, owning the record for most blocked shots in a given season is quite a feat, but reveals deficiencies that may otherwise be glossed over to those who don’t bother looking deeper.

Yes, I’m all for defensemen, and all players really, sacrificing themselves inside their own zone to a degree. Great.

But like we’ve all said on the Dump and Chase podcast, here on this site, and in private, if you’re blocking shots that means you’re chasing pucks and you’re out of position, scurrying back to avoid a high-percentage scoring opportunity from occurring, or worse, on the PK more than you should be.

Much rather have the likes of MacDonald, Hamonic, and to a lesser extent Matt Martin, et al. clearing pucks cleanly out of the zone, rather than risking their bodies.

But do I think the Isles should re-sign MacDonald? At a hometown discount. Not at 5M or anything that close.

But then again, if you think about it, what you’re really hoping to get is a much better Andrew MacDonald, because you’re sure as heck not getting a PK Subban, Pietrangelo, and the like. So, why not see what happens when the likes of Griffin Reinhart arrive, and see if lessening ice time improves upon Andrew MacDonald’s overall game.

CT: Valid points, and I agree that he is definitely biting off more than he can chew.

RDR: Right? And to touch upon one thing: fans can clamor about MacDonald’s glaring errors, and there are many, but this man is definitely taking on too much. No business does he have being on that Power Play, for starters.

CT: Oh yes. No business being out there with the man-advantage. AT. ALL. Let me say one thing about what you call a “misleading stat”

RDR: Okay. Shoot.

CT: Was it not Dan Girardi who made an All-Star appearance solely for his ability to block shots in front of Lundqvist? I agree that the statistic can be misleading, and I would much rather have a defenseman clear the puck smoothly than risk his body/injury by getting in the way, but sometimes, you need to block that shot. A shot that is blocked is a puck that doesn’t reach the net. It’s easy to go after MacDonald for that statistic being his “best,” but I think it has been diminished by his poor play otherwise.

Whether or not he stays here for the remainder of the season depends on the team’s success come trade deadline time. As we have seen, if the Isles are in the conversation, they will stand pat rather than ship A-Mac off. I could live with keeping him if the Isles are still in the hunt, but if not, I’m sure they can get a nice return for a player that many think has regressed in 2013-14.

RDR: Agree with you on one thing, for now: if the Isles are in some semblance of a playoff run, then you stand pat, just like they did with Mark Streit. Wait and see.