10:15 am: No one needed to tell Andrew MacDonald what the long-term injury to Mark Streit meant for him.
“It was pretty much understood among all the D that this would be an opportunity,” said MacDonald, the 24-year-old defenseman who impressed in the second half of last season. “Management added a lot of depth and we have some great young players coming up, so if anything the competition is even more ramped up.”
MacDonald, who averaged 20 minutes of icetime over 46 games last season, could very well be the defenseman counted on the most during Streit’s absence. In a conversation with reporters earlier this week, coach Scott Gordon was asked about players such as Jack Hillen filling the void on the power play. Gordon made a point of bringing MacDonald’s name into the equation.
“I think one player we’ll want to take a look at is Andrew MacDonald,” said Gordon. “Over the last few years in Bridgeport and last season with us, Andrew has shown that he’s capable of handling a lot.”
Sure enough, MacDonald was one of the Islanders’ best players in his squad’s 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames in Saskatoon on Wednesday. Since Streit went down with a major shoulder injury, MacDonald has been partnered at times with James Wisniewski. As poised off the ice as he is on it, the pride of Judique, Nova Scotia is handling Gordon’s vote of confidence as if it was an oncoming forechecker.
“It’s always nice to hear the good stuff, but I have to prove it on the ice,” said MacDonald, who had a goal and six assists in the NHL last season. “One thing I’ve learned since junior is that when you think too much, when you over-analyze a situation, you put yourself in trouble. Last year, I was pretty much focused at the NHL level on my defense. If the coaches decide to give me more of an offensive role, I would welcome the opportunity.
“The one thing I can pretty much guarantee you is, not one guy is going to replace Mark Streit.”
Notes: Kirill Petrov was traded within the KHL from Ak Bars to Yugra for a fifth round pick in the 2011 KHL draft. Since Ak Bars is a veteran-filled powerhouse and Yugra is not, this could lead to much more icetime for the talented Petrov. For the third straight season, Petrov was hardly playing for Ak Bars.
“This is a fresh start for Kirill,” said his agent, Sasha Tynjynch. “Yugra is a new team and their coach really likes Kirill’s play. I’m thankful Ak Bars did this good thing for us by placing Kirill with a team where he has the chance to get much more icetime. This is good for the Islanders because it is good for Kirill’s development as a hockey player.”
Petrov will play the rest of this season in the KHL. After that, no one knows. Still, this is potentially good news for the Islanders, who hope to have Petrov in North America next season or – at the latest – hopefully in 2012.