The Flyers claimed Zack MacEwen off waivers Wednesday from the Vancouver Canucks, adding a bottom-six forward with 55 games of NHL experience (six goals, three assists, 69 penalty minutes). MacEwen, 25, signed with the Canucks as an undrafted free agent on March 3, 2017, and has split time between the NHL club and their AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets. Last season, MacEwen got into 34 NHL games with the Canucks, tallying one goal, one assist and 44 penalty minutes.
Over the course of his career, MacEwen has shown a penchant for physicality — the 6-foot-3, 205-pound forward has compiled 110 hits and nine fights through three NHL seasons. Most recently, MacEwen fought Oilers winger Zack Kassian in a preseason game that ended in Kassian taking a scary, helmet-less fall to the ice.
To clear cap space for MacEwen, the Flyers placed center Kevin Hayes (abdominal surgery) on Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR). The designation means that Hayes must miss at least 10 games and 24 days of the NHL season.
The move does not take Hayes’ contract off of the payroll, but it allows the team to temporarily exceed the salary cap. According to CapFriendly, the Flyers now have just over $6.3 million in cap space in LTIR Pool. Once Hayes comes off of LTIR, the Flyers must be under the cap.
In compliance with LTIR rules, the earliest Hayes could be available to return to the lineup is on Nov. 10 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hayes was initially added to the injury report on Sep. 21 and was expected to miss the next six to eight weeks. A Nov. 10 return would put him right on schedule for his anticipated recovery.
While he won’t be rejoining the team for a game any time soon, Hayes has been back on the ice working with skills coach Angelo Ricci as he continues to rehab his injury.
With Brown and MacEwen in the mix, the Flyers must decide how they want to construct their bottom-six forward depth chart. According to head coach Alain Vigneault, Brown figured to slot in at center or on the right wing on the Flyers’ fourth line alongside Nate Thompson and Nic Aubé-Kubel.
The addition of MacEwen may shake up the construction of the fourth line, however, it’s unlikely MacEwen will be up to speed by opening night on Oct. 15 against his former team. Last season in Vancouver, right-shot MacEwen played both center and right wing.