Andy McDonald was the Ducks' original draft dodger. Signed as free agent in 2000, McDonald set the standard for undrafted Ducks making a difference at the highest level. Since then, the Ducks have made a killing in the undrafted player department, signing players such as Chris Kunitz, Dustin Penner, Jonas Hiller, and Viktor Fasth. During his first season, 2000-2001, he scored one goal — against the Kings — and zero assists in 16 games, finishing with an even rating and six penalty minutes.
The injuries that dominated much of his career began early. McDonald missed the entire 2003 Playoffs with a concussion and was forced to watch as his team fought its way to the Stanley Cup Final, ultimately losing in seven games to the New Jersey Devils. The following season, McDonald was able to stay healthy and played 79 games, by far the most of his career up to that point. In those 79 games, he managed to collect 30 points, but the Ducks failed to qualify for the postseason, and McDonald was forced to wait another year — two actually, because of the lockout — before getting his first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
2005-06 was McDonald's breakout year. New coach Randy Carlyle played him between Chris Kunitz and Teemu Selanne, and over the course of the next two seasons, the McDonald-Selanne duo was among the most dangerous in the NHL. In both of those seasons, McDonald played all 82 games and finished second on the team in scoring, behind Selanne and ahead of Scott Niedermayer, with 85 points in 2005-06 and 78 in 2006-07. In 2007, McDonald played in his only career All-Star Game. During the skills competition, he won the Fastest Skater event, becoming the only Duck ever to do so (although Niedermayer had done so twice as a Devil).
He led all Ducks in goal scoring with 10 during the 2007 Playoffs, leading NBC analyst Ed Olczyk to predict that he would win the Conn Smythe Trophy right before it was handed out to Scott Niedermayer instead. His ten goals included a hat trick in Game One against Vancouver and this beauty in Game Four against Ottawa.
Three months into the 2007-08 campaign, Scott Niedermayer announced that he would play the rest of the season after considering retirement, and Brian Burke traded McDonald to the St. Louis Blues in order to free up cap space for Niedermayer's return. In exchange, the Ducks received Doug Weight (way past his prime), Michal Birner (never played an NHL game, before or after this trade), and a seventh round pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
McDonald played parts of six seasons with the Blues, and at times demonstrated the offensive brilliance that characterized his last few years in Anaheim. In 2009-10, he led the Blues in scoring with 57 points in 79 games, and in both 2009 and 2012, he led the Blues in playoff scoring, but failed to lead his team past the second round.
Throughout his tenure with the Blues, McDonald was plagued by concussion issues more so than ever before, and he cited concussions as the biggest reason behind his decision to retire. This past season, his points-per-game average dipped to its lowest level since before the 2004-05 lockout, and he was held without a point in the Blues' six-game playoff loss against the Kings. His last NHL goal came in the penultimate game of the regular season. Nothing special about it, but it was his last, after all, so take a look.
Andy McDonald finished his NHL career with 182 goals, 307 assists, 489 points, plus-5 rating, and 280 penalty minutes in 685 regular season games, not to mention 18 goals, 19 assists, 37 points, plus-5 rating, and 28 penalty minutes in 56 playoff games. In an alternate universe where he was able to avoid concussions, McDonald is known as one of the most dynamic offensive threats of his generation. In this universe, he is known as a fantastic hockey player and an even better human being who wound up on the wrong side of bad luck. Oh, and he won the greatest trophy in sports. That's worth something.