Shayne Gostisbehere, the puck-moving Flyers defenseman who once finished second in the rookie-of-the-year voting and was regarded as a game-changing NHL player, cleared waivers at noon Wednesday.

None of the other 30 NHL teams claimed him, apparently deterred by his $4.5 million annual salary-cap hit, which runs through the end of the 2022-23 season.

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Gostisbehere, who will turn 28 on April 20, thus remains with the Flyers, who placed him on the taxi squad. He was not in the lineup Wednesday in Buffalo. Erik Gustafsson took his spot and was paired with Samuel Morin.

“I know it’s probably hard for Ghost right now,” Morin said before the game. “I had dinner with him yesterday and we talked about it. ... I’m happy he’s still here, and obviously I’m sure he’s going to help us. He’s a great player and he’s great with the puck.”

With Gostisbehere on the taxi squad, the Flyers gain $1.075 million in cap space. The Flyers’ available cap space is at about $3.8 million. With the April 12 trade deadline approaching, teams are trying to free cap space as they get in position to make deals.

The Flyers’ cap space will grow as they get closer to the trade deadline because they are putting players on the taxi squad on off days and accumulating more cap relief.

The Flyers could be jockeying for position to acquire a defenseman like Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm or Columbus’s David Savard. Either would play on the top pairing with Ivan Provorov.

Ekholm, 30, has an annual $3.75 million cap hit through the end of next season. Savard ($4.25 million cap hit), a right-hander, can become an unrestricted free agent after the season.

As for Gostisbehere, he has played on all three pairings this season. In the last three games before Wednesday, he had been alongside Morin on the third pairing. The defensemen played well together.

Gostisbehere has played 13 of his 25 games on the top pairing with Provorov; the Flyers are 7-5-1 in those games.

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The Florida native was benched for three games earlier this season because of defensive shortcomings.

Gostisbehere, who missed the early part of the season because he contracted the coronavirus, has five goals, 11 points and a minus-1 rating in 25 games.

As a rookie in 2015-16, Gostisbehere took the NHL by storm after being recalled from the AHL’s Phantoms early in the season. His speedy skating and powerful shot were eye-opening, especially when you consider he missed most of the previous season because of a torn ACL.

Of the 17 goals he scored as a rookie, 16 either tied a game or put the Flyers ahead. He transformed the Flyers from an also-ran to a playoff qualifier.

“He’s added a dimension we hadn’t seen before,” teammate Wayne Simmonds said at the time.

Gostisbehere finished second to Artemi Panarin, then with Chicago, in the Calder Trophy voting for rookie of the year as he collected 17 goals — a Flyers record for a first-year defenseman — and 46 points in 64 games. He finished behind Panarin and ahead of Connor McDavid, who played in just 45 games that year because of an injury; Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin, among others.

The player known as “Ghost” set an NHL rookie record for defensemen by putting together a 15-game points streak that season. That came two years after he led tiny Union College to the NCAA championship.

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Gostisbehere’s best season was 2017-18 (65 points, plus-10); he was slowed by two knee surgeries last season, but has bounced back and been a mostly productive player this year.

Now that he has slipped through waivers, he is hoping to help the Flyers secure a playoff berth, mindful that this could be his final year in orange and black because he might be an attractive player for Seattle in the expansion draft.


The Flyers are reportedly showing interest in 32-year-old Detroit goalie Jonathan Bernier (2.78 GAA, .918 save percentage), who can become an unrestricted free agent after the season. ... Putting Gostisbehere on the taxi squad, coach Alain Vigneault said, gave him the roster flexibility to give Oskar Lindblom and Nolan Patrick a rest Wednesday. He said he hoped a break would “reset” the forwards. Lindblom underwent chemotherapy and had some ribs removed as he battled a rare bone cancer last year, and Patrick missed last season because of a migraine disorder ... Connor Bunnaman and Carsen Twarynski played on the fourth line Wednesday.