Sunday, March 12, 2006

Andy McDonald: Unsung Star

Just before the trade deadline, I listed the top scorers since January first. One player on the list who has had little fanfare is Andy McDonald of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. He is second in Anaheim's scoring race (behind Teemu Selanne) with 57 points in 62 games. This is a breakthrough season for McDonald. Previously, his career best had been 30 points. In fact, he had three straight seasons from 2001 through 2004 where he scored 20 to 30 points, so he looked to be established as a mid-level talent role player. This year shows he has much more of an upside. As a smallish finesse player, maybe he has benefitted from the extra room he has been given on the ice due to the obstruction crackdown. Maybe at age 28, he is hitting his prime as an NHL player. One thing is clear, when you play Anaheim, McDonald is one of the most dangerous players you will have to play against.

Don't forget that in McDonald's case, that it really took a while to get top-line minutes. He was generally pigeon-holed behind (at times) Oates, Rucchin, and Fedorov.

He's really fun to watch, like a poor man's Kariya. Maybe that's why Selanne has taken to him so well.
I don't buy this argument.

In 2002/03 he averaged 18:30 per game
In 2003/04 he averaged 16:33 per game
This season he is averaging 16:34 per game.

I am sure McDonald plays with better linemates and in more offensive situations since he has shown he is one of Anaheim's better scorers, but he doesn't seem to get more ice time.

For the most part Anaheim rolls out four lines more or less evenly. They have done that for a few years before and after McDonald's emergence.
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