In two days, the one-time conditioning period extension that the NHL granted the Flyers for goaltender Michael Leighton will officially end. His $1.55 million cap hit will come back on the payroll. Comments by general manager Paul Holmgren have suggested that the team will carry three goalies until they figure out what to do. Without diving into all the options at their disposal regarding their goaltenders, it’s likely that either Ian Laperriere will be put on long-term injury reserve (LTIR) or defenseman Matt Walker will be waived.
Walker could have been eligible for LTIR, but the Flyers instead loaned him to the Adirondack Phantoms this weekend to begin conditioning as well. From NHLSCAP.com, “Players designated for a conditioning assignment are not subject to waivers, regardless of their waiver status; such assignments may not be longer than fourteen (14) days.” Both Walker and Leighton played last night against the Syracuse Crunch, the AHL affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks, helping the listless Phantoms notch their fourth win of the season.
While putting Laperriere on LTIR isn’t the best move in terms of salary cap constraints, I would be surprised if one of the above options was not how the Flyers approached Monday’s deadline. Leighton apparently looked sharper in the Phantoms 3-2 win than in both losses last weekend, but is still experiencing some pain in his left leg that is a result of his back issues. Waiving Walker has similar risks associated with it as waiving Leighton, as both salaries are similar and both players are still nursing injuries, making player claims by other teams less likely. As far as depth is concerned, Phantoms defenseman Danny Syvret, in my opinion, is a better option in the event of a call-up than Walker anyway.
Meanwhile, goaltender Brian Boucher has continued his solid play with a 4-1 win on Thursday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Boosh started over goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who played the night before in the 5-4 epic collapse against the San Jose Sharks. Boosh has been given the nod to start tonight against the Boston Bruins, as the Flyers return to TD Garden for the first time since Boston’s epic collapse in the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Barring any bizarre turn of events or injuries over the rest of this weekend, the Flyers goaltending picture will get a little bit clearer on Monday.