After injuries to two defensemen and a suspension to Radko Gudas, Andrew MacDonald has returned to the Flyers.
Promoted from the Phantoms, MacDonald practiced with the Flyers in Voorhees on Monday and replaced the injured Luke Schenn, who is expected to miss two weeks.
On Tuesday, when the Flyers host MacDonald's former team, the New York Islanders, the 29-year-old defenseman will be paired with Michael Del Zotto.
MacDonald is looking at this stint as an audition to stay with the Flyers, who would have to get creative to fit him under the cap when Mark Streit returns from an injury.
"I can't look at it any other way," he said of his chance to show he deserves to stay in the NHL. "I'm here based on injury and suspension, but it's a good opportunity and I'm just going to try to take advantage of it."
MacDonald, coming off a mistake-prone season, cleared waivers and was sent to Lehigh Valley during training camp; he is in the second year of a six-year, $30 million contract. The Flyers absorbed $4,000,050 of his $5 million cap hit while he was with the Phantoms. With his recall, they take the entire $5 million cap hit.
The Nova Scotia native conceded it took him a couple days to get over the shock of the demotion.
"You can't dwell on it or it'll put you in a bad frame of mind," he said after Monday's practice. ". . . Obviously, in a situation like that, you don't want to go down with a bad attitude. It's something you have to take as a challenge, and work on things and try to be professional about it. I got an opportunity to play in a lot of situations down there and I think it helped out a lot."
MacDonald led Lehigh Valley defensemen with 13 points in 23 games this year.
He admitted the hefty contract created pressure last year.
"It definitely weighed on me a bit," he said. "It's difficult to go from making the league minimum ($575,000) to $5 million. You kind of put a lot of pressure on yourself and expect a lot, and when things don't necessarily go the way you want, it kind of weighs on you.
"That being said, it's part of being a professional. You have to step up and do your job," he said.
Coach Dave Hakstol had some input in general manager Ron Hextall's decision to recall MacDonald.
"He's going to bring the stability of a veteran defenseman," Hakstol said. "He's a good puck-mover, he's competitive, and dependable in terms of defending."
Breakaways. Forward Sam Gagner took part in practice for the first time since he was injured Nov. 23, and he said he hopes to return next week. He was the fourth Flyer to suffer a concussion this season - Sean Couturier, Evgeny Medvedev and Michal Neuvirth were the others. . . . Jake Voracek was back on the top line at practice, but Hakstol said it was just to get a look at things. He said Voracek will start on the third line Tuesday, when the Flyers try to avenge a 3-1 (with an empty-netter) Nov. 25 loss to the Islanders. . . . Gudas will sit out the final game of his three-game suspension Tuesday.