Former Islanders Andrew MacDonald, Mark Streit find their place with Flyers

Andrew MacDonald of the Islanders skates against the Andrew MacDonald of the Islanders skates against the Winnipeg Jets at Nassau Coliseum. (April 2, 2013) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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Andrew MacDonald and Mark Streit served the Islanders well after arriving on Long Island via different routes in the 2008-09 season.

Streit came to the Islanders as Garth Snow's splashiest free-agent pickup; the five-year, $20.5-million deal he signed in the summer of 2008 turned out to be one of the better July moves in recent Isles history.

Streit was 30 then but had only two NHL seasons under his belt. He grew into a high-scoring defenseman who spent his last two seasons with the Islanders as their captain.

MacDonald was a sixth-round pick in the 2006 draft, a cross-your-fingers selection in Mike Milbury's final summer as general manager who wound his way from Moncton of the Quebec League to Bridgeport of the AHL, back to Utah of the ECHL and finally to the Islanders.

He was there for five full seasons, blossoming into a minutes-eating, shot-blocking defenseman. When he broke his hand while blocking a shot in Game 4 of the Isles' only playoff appearance of either MacDonald's or Streit's tenure last spring, the team's defense corps suffered.

But for all their good work during recent seasons, success was hard to come by. With two different contract requests both rejected by Snow, first Streit and now MacDonald are with the Flyers.

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Heading into Game 2 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series against the Rangers Sunday, MacDonald -- who scored Philly's only goal in Game 1 -- and Streit are not just new additions to a franchise that has missed the playoffs twice in the last 19 seasons. They are Flyers for the long haul.

Snow traded Streit's rights to the Flyers last June for a fourth-round draft pick and Philly promptly gave the now 36-year-old Streit a four-year, $22-million deal. On March 4, headed for another playoff-less spring, Snow dealt MacDonald to the Flyers for a 2014 third-round pick and a 2015 second-rounder.

On the eve of the postseason, the 27-year-old MacDonald signed a six-year, $30-million deal.

"It's great for him," Streit said. "He's a really good player. He's improved over the years and established himself as one of the top D in the league. I was happy for the trade, and that's one thing. Locking him up is another and he's a great addition. He's happy to have that out of the way and concentrate on hockey."

For MacDonald, that concentration was difficult at times with the Islanders this season. He and Travis Hamonic formed the Isles' top defense pair, and Hamonic signed a seven-year, $27-million deal in July. MacDonald, entering the final season of a four-year, $2.2-million deal that seemed criminally under market once he began playing more than 23 minutes a night, was seeking to join the big-boy ranks with a $5-million-per-year deal. Snow was never interested in that, though.

As the season got going, MacDonald was pressed into playing more than 25 minutes a game, six weeks of that with a broken jaw, and his game suffered a bit with the uncertainty of his future.

His minus-19 rating in 63 games with the Isles was far and away a career worst. In the advanced metrics department, his relative Corsi and relative Fenwick -- two measurements of shots for and against with a player on the ice compared to those same totals without that player on the ice -- ranked dead last among all NHL defensemen who played more than 62 games, according to the extraskater.com website.

"There was a lot of talk about getting traded, and I figured if I did, it would be to a contender. Philly was a great spot, great fit for me," MacDonald said.

MacDonald played 3:26 per game less with the Flyers than he did this season with the Islanders. Philadelphia, with an aging defense corps, saw a chance to lock up MacDonald before July 1 came. He got his $5 million per season, though perhaps for a longer term than he might have liked.

The easygoing MacDonald has no regrets about either of the deals he's signed. "It's obviously great to get rewarded for the work you put in over the years," he said. "With the Islanders, [the four-year, $2.2-million deal] gave me an opportunity to establish myself. It was maybe a little bit longer than I would have liked, but it gave me lots of opportunities to show what I can do.

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"Since I've been traded, I've been committed to this team, been very happy here . . . I'm looking forward to spending the next six years here."

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