The Value of Andrew MacDonald
Andrew MacDonald might be considered a player that flew under the radar for many teams. After all, he was drafted in the sixth round of the 2006 NHL Entry draft primarily because Ted Nolan was currently the head coach and had worked with him previously with the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL. Had MacDonald been without a connection to the New York Islanders organization, the team very well might not have drafted him. (Robert Kowal/Flickr)
Since joining the Islanders organization, A-Mac has become one of the top-four blue liners on this young team for a number of reasons. Although he would like to improve his offensive input from the back end, something he did very well while with the Wildcats (he scored 58 points in 2007), his shot blocking has been an invaluable asset.
Although they are the Isles' biggest rivals, take a look at the New York Rangers. They currently lead all teams in the playoffs with 309 blocked shots. Washington was second to them with 308, but the next closest team is the Phoenix Coyotes with 226. Currently the Rangers are in a 1-1 series tie with the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals, and their shot blocking has been one of the main reasons why they have been so successful. In fact, Martin Brodeur was even quoted in the New York Post stating that his team "might be able to hurt a few guys [by] hitting one-timers in the foot and their head or something.” This comment was made only after Game one; the Rangers' shot blocking ability had already put someone, who is arguably the greatest goalie to play the game, into a frustrated state that he would suggest injury as the only way to succeed.
Now Brodeur's comments can be ripped apart by many because publicly stating the desire to injure another team's players is classless and downright disgraceful. But that is not what I am here to talk about today.
When looking back to the regular season, the New York Islanders led the league in shots blocked as a team with 1,364. The Rangers placed in fourth with 1,338. When looking at individual leaders during the regular season, Andrew MacDonald tied for fifth with Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi with 185 shots blocked. Those that placed in spots one through four were on teams that did not qualify for the playoffs. Even more interesting is that the next Islander ranked after MacDonald was Travis Hamonic with 157 at 17th. No other Islanders skater cracked the top 30, although there were two Rangers, Ryan McDonagh being the other, in the top 10.
With the exception of Niklas Kronwall of the Detroit Red Wings, who placed 10th on the list, no other team made the playoffs that ranked in the top 10 of individual leaders during the regular season.
It goes to show how valuable Andrew MacDonald has become to the New York Islanders. His willingness to sacrifice his body in front of shots on a nightly basis has not only made him an important member to the defensive corps, but also a valuable leader. If and when this team makes the playoffs, MacDonald will likely be leading the way in the shots blocked category as well. And if the team can keep up with him, they might continue to lead this category into the post-season.
Blocking shots is not the only necessary component to win hockey games, but it is an overlooked stat that is telling of a team's desire to win. Regardless if you would like to admit it or not, the New York Rangers are illustrating that desire each and every game.
It goes to show that the shot blocking defenseman is just as important as the one that can fire sizzling one-timers on the power play.
As a sixth round pick, Andrew MacDonald has turned into an absolute steal; and their still might be more to see.