NEW YORK - General manager Ron Hextall thought the Flyers needed a grinding-type player to replace the injured Sam Gagner, which is why he recalled Colin McDonald from the Phantoms instead of high-scoring Petr Straka.

McDonald, a veteran right winger who was the Phantoms' captain, was a better fit, Hextall said.

"Whenever you're looking to recall somebody, you're looking for a guy who brings qualities you feel you need in a certain place in your lineup - and Mac right now was the fit," Hextall said before the Flyers faced the New York Islanders on Wednesday night at the Barclays Center.

McDonald, 31, who had a strong training camp with the Flyers and was one of their last roster cuts, missed about six weeks of the AHL season because of a suspected knee injury. He had two points in four games with the Phantoms.

Entering Wednesday, Straka was tied for the AHL lead with 12 goals.

"He's played very well and we're happy with him," Hextall said. "But . . . where's he going to be in your lineup and what type of opportunities is he going to have? Petr is the type of guy that you kind of want to put him on a line where he has a chance to score, and Mac's the type of guy you want to put on a line where they are going to grind it out, work hard, spend time in the offensive zone, cycle the puck."

On Wednesday, McDonald played right wing on a line with Scott Laughton and Taylor Leier.

Coincidentally, McDonald's return to the NHL was against his former team, the Islanders. He spent parts of three seasons with the Isles.

"Funny how sports works these things out," McDonald said after the morning skate. "Just to get another day in the NHL I'm obviously very happy. A chance to play against my former team, it's a chance to prove and play with a chip on my shoulder. I'll see some close friends after the game."

Gagner, who suffered a cut above his left eye in Monday's win over Carolina, will miss about another week, Hextall said. That means McDonald figures to play at least four games with the Flyers.

McDonald was injured in the Phantoms' season opener and didn't return to the lineup until last weekend.

"I felt good last weekend and I'm excited to get a chance," he said. "At this point in my career, I am not trying to rush anything. That was the hardest part. Maybe two weeks ago I could have played if there were playoffs. I just wanted to make sure I took the time possible to be 100 percent."

He admitted to being a "bit surprised" by the promotion.

"I thought they might want to give me more time in the American League to get my timing down," he said. "I did feel really good last weekend - three road games. Maybe the coaches liked what they saw and thought I was ready."

Meanwhile, veteran forward Vinny Lecavalier continues to sit in the press box. Lecavalier was a healthy scratch for the 15th time in the team's 22 games.

Breakaways. R.J. Umberger (foot) will skate at Thursday's practice, but neither he or Ryan White (shoulder) are expected to return to the lineup until next week. . . . Hextall said if a playmaker went down with an injury, Nick Cousins would have been recalled.