Flyers place 'shocked' MacDonald on waivers

The Philadelphia Inquirer

It isn't every day that one of a team's highest-paid players is put on waivers, but that was the stunning move the Flyers made Monday with defenseman Andrew MacDonald.tmpplchld MacDonald, coming off a mistake-prone season, still has five years left on a six-year, $30 million extension he signed in 2014.tmpplchld General manager Ron Hextall called it a "tough decision" but said he expected MacDonald to return to the Flyers later this season.tmpplchld "Mac's a good player. We can't forget that. I'm convinced he's going to be back in the NHL and be productive at some point," Hextall said. "With the dollars that everybody has and you have to balance your cap ... sometimes it leads you to make decisions like this one."tmpplchld The Flyers would be about $670,000 under the $71.4 million salary cap if MacDonald clears waivers Tuesday and goes to the AHL's Phantoms. MacDonald has a $5 million annual cap hit, third-highest on the team. If no one claims him and he is sent to Lehigh Valley, MacDonald will be paid his full salary and the Flyers will absorb a cap hit of $4,000,050. They get $950,000 of cap relief with the demotion.tmpplchld The move leaves the Flyers with their 23-player roster for opening night, one that includes center Scott Laughton and defenseman Brandon Manning. The Flyers will carry 14 forwards, seven defensemen, and two goalies.tmpplchld "Scotty pushed hard and I give him credit," Hextall said. "He had to come in here and make us a better team, and thus far that's what he has done."tmpplchld "The hard work has just begun. I'm excited for the opportunity," said Laughton, 21, who will start the season centering Matt Read and R.J. Umberger on the third line. He later added, "I definitely know how hard it is to make the league and stay there, too. That's the biggest thing _ staying here. I'm going to do everything I can to stay here, work as hard as I can."tmpplchld Hextall said MacDonald was "shocked" when he was told he was going on waivers.tmpplchld After he signed the six-year extension in 2014, MacDonald struggled mightily last season. Because of his high salary, MacDonald, 29, figures to clear waivers.tmpplchld When the season opens Thursday at Tampa Bay, Luke Schenn ($3.6 million cap hit) will be the seventh defenseman and forwards Sam Gagner ($3.2 million) and Vinny Lecavalier ($4.5 million) are penciled in as healthy scratches.tmpplchld That means the Flyers will have four players totaling $16.3 million of cap space (including MacDonald's original cap hit) who are not in the lineup.tmpplchld Schenn was jolted by the demotion of MacDonald, his onetime defensive partner. "I don't think anyone saw that coming," he said.tmpplchld Schenn said that "sometimes things can be perceived through a different view just because of a contract. But I think he's actually a real solid two-way defenseman and underrated player. He moves the puck well, he's solid defensively. A great teammate. Who knows, maybe he will be back sooner than later. He's really respected by his teammates and he's definitely an NHL player."tmpplchld MacDonald had one assist in three preseason games. He had 12 points in 58 games last season.tmpplchld He was signed to his hefty extension by then-GM Paul Holmgren, who at the time was assisted by Hextall. MacDonald was acquired from the New York Islanders in March 2014 for second- and third-round draft picks and minor-leaguer Matt Mangene.tmpplchld MacDonald had been a top-pairing defenseman with the Isles. He led the NHL with 242 blocked shots in 2013-14, a season in which he played in only 19 games with the Flyers and then was rewarded with a six-year deal.tmpplchld ___tmpplchld (c)2015 The Philadelphia Inquirertmpplchld Visit The Philadelphia Inquirer at www.philly.comtmpplchld Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.tmpplchld

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