Let’s just go ahead and get this out there: I am, at most, one step below being an Andrew Macdonald fanboy. I’ve written about him a couple times in the past as well.
I had the privilege of getting called up and sent down and called up and sent down with him in 2007-2008 between the Utah Grizzlies and Bridgeport Sound Tigers, and therefore got to practice with him fairly consistently.
Macdonald, like myself, enjoyed getting on the ice early and staying out after practice, partially because we wanted to improve, but mostly because we both genuinely love hockey, and messing around with a bucket of pucks is a blast.
That time enabled me to see two things that the Islanders defenseman can do that I cannot (actually, the list is much, much longer than that, but I’ll just share two for now).
I’ll use “A-Mac’s” goal today as exhibit A:
(He has a bomb for a skinny kid, if you hadn’t noticed.)
He can and does take full, ceiling-scraping slapshots….with his head up the entire time.
And I don’t mean he sneaks a peak before he hits it. He sees the puck coming (or has it on his stick, which is when he does it best), picks his head up and stares at the net, picks his corner and unloads.
I remember being in front of the net on a 5-on-3 in Fresno as he rolled to the middle of the ice with the puck, looked at the net (I thought he was staring at me, trying to get me to go somewhere) then suddenly uncorked without so much as glancing down for a heartbeat. Over my shoulder, over the goalies shoulder, and I just about pooped my pants.
It’s extremely unique, even at the pro level, but what an advantage if you can do it.
The other trick up his sleeve is something I call his “cutter” – if you pass him a puck and he’s standing a foot from the net, he uses the heel of his blade and hacks at the puck. He can get it up and under the crossbar like nothing I’ve ever seen.
It’s not a re-direct – he can be standing on the other side of the net a foot or two back from it, you can pass it directly to him across the net, and he heel chops it into the top corner.
He has a fairly slight build (or he did 3 years ago anyway), so he’s struggled with injuries since he’s been in the NHL.
But if he’s any stronger and can play 70+ games or so this year, I’d snap him up in a fantasy league in a New York minute. The Isles have him under contract at $550k a year (barely above league minimum) through the year 2013-2014. That could end up being one of the best contracts in the NHL by that time.
Oh, sorry - If you’re him that reads “worst.”