NEW YORK - In a surprise move caused by salary-cap problems, the Flyers yesterday signed an inexperienced defenseman and thrust him into the playoff race.
The Flyers signed 6-foot-2, 205-pound David Sloane, who was born in Philadelphia and lives in Ambler, to an amateur tryout under emergency conditions, and he was in the lineup last night against the New York Rangers.
Sloane, 24, who played this season for Colgate University, replaced Ryan Parent, who is listed as day-to-day with a strained groin. Sloane played 6 minutes, 44 seconds, blocking a shot and finishing even in the plus-minus ratings.
The Flyers could not call up a more experienced player from the AHL Phantoms because they did not have enough space under the $56.7 million salary cap.
"Quite frankly, his cap number is zero," general manager Paul Holmgren said when asked why Sloane got the nod. ". . . It's not an ideal situation to be in."
Under emergency conditions of an amateur tryout, Sloane was available to play for a 24-hour period beginning with last night's game. He was paid a per diem sum of about $100.
"David Sloane is a college hockey player who's never played a pro game," Holmgren said an hour before the opening face-off. "Is he ready for the National Hockey League? Probably not, but he'll get on-the-job training and we'll see."
Sloane became the first Philadelphia-born player to play for the Flyers and the fifth in NHL history, according to hockeyreference.com.
"I just want to keep it simple and play my game," Sloane said beforehand. "I want to get the butterflies out early."
He was paired with Andrew Alberts while Randy Jones moved to the top defensive pairing with Kimmo Timonen.
Sloane also signed an amateur tryout with the Phantoms on March 17 but has yet to appear in a game for the Flyers' AHL affiliate.
Sloane posted four assists and 37 penalty minutes in 35 games in his senior season at Colgate University, where he was named to the ECAC hockey all-academic team. In 129 career games over four years at Colgate, Sloane had 10 goals, 13 assists, and 100 penalty minutes.
"I'm very surprised and excited about this opportunity. I had no idea this was happening," Sloane said. "Just throwing the Flyers uniform on and playing at a place like Madison Square Garden has been a dream of mine my whole life."
The other Philadelphia-born players to play in the NHL: Tom Brennan, Boston, 1943-45 (12 games); Jay Caufield, Rangers, Minnesota, and Pittsburgh, 1986-93 (208 games); Ryan Mulhern, Washington, 1997-98, (three games); and Ray Staszak, Detroit, 1985-86 (four games).
In another move, Luca Sbisa, whose junior season ended Wednesday, joined the Phantoms. Sbisa will join the Flyers in the playoffs.
Holmgren, who lost Ossi Vaananen and Glen Metropolit on waivers earlier this season because of salary-cap problems, said he has learned some hard lessons.
"You try to have the best team you can, but the lesson here is that you have to try to leave yourself a little leeway," the general manager said.
The Flyers will try to complete a season sweep against the host New York Islanders tomorrow at 2 p.m.
Led by goalie Marty Biron, the Flyers have won nine straight against the Isles, including a 5-0 mark this season. Biron is 5-0 with a 1.94 GAA and .942 save percentage in the season series. He has won his last 11 starts against the Islanders. - Sam Carchidi