One day before the Flyers must turn in their roster, the club made a couple of surprising waiver moves.
Both Oskars Bartulis and Matt Walker, who were fighting for the seventh and final defensive spot, were waived along with veteran center Blair Betts.
The only non-surprise was the Flyers loaning injured Brayden Schenn (shoulder) directly to the Phantoms, where he will start the season. He did not incur physical contact with his shoulder in recent practices with the team.
At the end of the day, he needs to play a little bit here, general manager Paul Holmgren said of Schenn, who appeared in four exhibitions. I dont know how long that is going to be. Hes healthy now and ready to take part in things. We got to get him playing.
Schenns salary cap hit would have been 3.11 million. Interestingly, as capgeek.com pointed out, if Schenn stays just one day in the minors, his cap hit drops to 1.705 million for this season only because of bonus structure.
The Walker move is curious given that both Holmgren and coach Peter Laviolette were raving about his play both Saturday and even on Tuesday.
Holmgren said theres still a chance that if Walker clears, hell be on the final roster on Wednesday.
What if Bartulis and Walker are both claimed? Whos the seventh defenseman? Anyone who wants Bartulis has to play a waiver price of more than 26,000 rather high, actually. Walkers is a little over 3,000.
Ill tell you tomorrow at 12:01 if thats a question I have to answer, Holmgren said, adding he has a pretty good sense that both would clear from checking around.
Holmgren admitted all of this has salary cap consequences but wouldnt get specific on the timing, but it appears he wants to see if anyone clears by noon Wednesday before he has to turn in his final roster for opening day Thursday in Boston.
Walkers cap hit is 1.7 million, again, rather high for a seventh defenseman.
I dont know what will happen, Holmgren said. Obviously, hes available now. Roster decisions will be made tomorrow. At noon tomorrow well know if they cleared. I wouldnt read into whos on waivers. We need to make decisions tomorrow.
Holmgren stressed the moves will give the Flyers some flexibility. Obviously, Schenns move helps them for later when hes recalled to the Flyers. His cap hit goes down.
We all have a good handle on what he can do and what he can bring, Holmgren said of Schenn. I dont know if this is going to be short term or long term right now. Its more important for him to get going and getting practice down there.
Schenn was the centerpiece of the Mike Richards deal, although Wayne Simmonds, also acquired in that deal, was, by far, the better player in camp.
Of all these moves, Betts is the one guy who likely has played his last game as a Flyer. Max Talbot can play his role.
Even rookie Sean Couturier could, if need be. Couturier is on the final roster, sources said over the weekend.
Sean is here today and in all likelihood, I would say he is going to be on our roster at the start of the year, Holmgren said. Well see what happens over the next 24 hours.
Back to Betts: He was the clubs top defensive faceoff take shorthanded if you consider he took far more than anyone else (46.2 percentage). Holmgren said it was a difficult conversation telling him.
I think a lot of Blair as a penalty killer and a good faceoff guy, hes really an ideal fourth line guy, Holmgren said.
The fact that some of those young guys were utilized in killing penalties in preseason and some of the guys we acquired in the summer through free agency and trade can fill that role, too. Blair has been a big part of things over the last couple years here.
Matt Read, Simmonds, Talbot and Claude Giroux all kill penalties. Even Zac Rinaldo, who is expected on the roster, can as well.
Holmgren admitted that Talbots flexibility factored into waiving Betts.
Dont be surprised if this leads to a trade down the road, something Holmgren didnt entirely discount.
E-mail Tim Panaccio at firstname.lastname@example.org