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Why Flyers Fans Should be Excited About Hunter McDonald

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Hunter McDonald

The Philadelphia Flyers adding more talent can only mean good things for the future of the organization.

On Monday, the Flyers announced that they had signed defenseman Hunter McDonald to a two-year, entry-level contract starting with the 2024-25 season.

McDonald, 21, just finished the second of two NCAA seasons with Northeastern University and has since been playing in the Flyers organization on an AHL tryout with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

So, why should Flyers fans be excited about a young player who was a sixth-round pick and has limited pro experience?

For starters, it’s already been well documented how Flyers president Keith Jones referred to McDonald as a “beast” in an appearance on the PHLY Flyers podcast.

You can watch Jones on the full episode here.

Now, standing at 6-foot-4, McDonald is most certainly going to be a physical, shutdown-type defenseman if all is well in his development. This is also not to say that McDonald can’t produce offense, because he can.

In 58 games with Northeastern, the 2022 sixth-round pick only scored two goals and 20 points in total. Indeed, McDonald is not going to turn into Adam Fox, Quinn Hughes, or Cale Makar and begin skating circles around his opponents.

However, in today’s NHL, playing defense and turning it into offense is an important skill to have. If McDonald can excel in his retrievals, zone exits, and breakout passes, he’ll put up points passively just for making the right play.

Take Carolina’s Jaccob Slavin as an example. Slavin is regarded as one of the league’s premier defenders despite having only exceeded 40 points in a season once. Slavin has, however, recorded 30 or more points six times in his career so far.

This only goes to show that McDonald doesn’t need to do anything exceedingly well offensively to be productive or useful to the Flyers. If you play to your strengths, you’ll always have a role in the NHL.

In all likelihood, McDonald’s role at the NHL level, if he makes it, is one John Tortorella has favored throughout his coaching career. Just ask Marc Staal or Dan Girardi, for example.

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