PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Andrew MacDonald has played his final game as a Philadelphia Flyer. The Flyers on Saturday placed the veteran defenseman on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract. MacDonald can be bought out on Sunday after he clears waivers.
MacDonald had one season left on a six-year, $30 million contract signed with the Flyers in April 2014 at a cap hit of $5 million.
With the buyout, MacDonald will become an unrestricted free agent while the Flyers will receive some cap relief, spread out over two seasons.
By buying MacDonald out, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher has opened up about $3.8 million in cap space for the 2019-20 season.
The downside of buying MacDonald out is that he will count against the Flyers’ cap in the 2020-21 season at about $1.9 million.
“It was a difficult decision and it was solely cap related,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher told reporters. “This guy’s a consummate professional. We asked a lot of Andrew and by that, I mean he played the left side, he played the right side, he’d be a healthy scratch and then we’d put him back in the lineup.”
“He’s just a quality person and a guy who played a very effective two-way game for our team,” Fletcher added. “But we are in a cap world and we made the tough decision to reallocate some of those dollars to maximize our chance to stay in the hunt for some players over the next couple weeks.”
MacDonald finishes his Flyers career with 11 goals and 68 points in 272 regular-season games. He was acquired from the New York Islanders during the 2013-14 season before signing his extension with the Flyers in April 2014.
The veteran was a maligned player who within the organization was highly respected as a leader and a person and outside, he was often the face of ridicule.
While his play on the ice didn’t quite live up to his contract, MacDonald was a serviceable NHL defenseman in the right role.
That will not be in the orange and black, and this move was the next logical step after the Flyers acquired Matt Niskanen from the Washington Capitals.
Niskanen comes to the Flyers with two years left on his contract and carries a $5.75 million cap hit.
With having to re-sign their restricted free agents – Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim and Travis Konecny, specifically – trying to sign Kevin Hayes and still be a player in free agency, keeping MacDonald’s $5 million cap hit on the books didn’t seem feasible.
With Niskanen, Fletcher believes he has a veteran who can fill the role the Flyers asked of MacDonald.
“Matt is a guy who’s played over 1,000 games in the NHL,” Fletcher said Saturday. “He’s a guy who commands respect with how he plays, how he prepares and how he shows up every day. So certainly he’ll bring that quality veteran presence and an awful lot of experience to what is an otherwise young defense corps.”
After buying MacDonald out, the Flyers have a projected $33.84 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly.com.
The NHL’s first buyout period opened on Saturday and will remain open until June 30 at 5 p.m.