BOSTON - When goalie Michael Leighton is deemed healthy enough to come off the long-term injured list, the Flyers will have to remove someone from their 23-man roster - and defenseman Matt Walker is a strong candidate.
Walker, 30, was activated Friday and sent to Adirondack, where he is trying to get back into shape after hip surgery. Walker and Leighton are both with the AHL Phantoms on a conditioning assignment.
Leighton could be ready to rejoin the Flyers this week, and when he does, the team plans to have three goalies for a short time, general manager Paul Holmgren said.
The Flyers have 23 players on their roster - the maximum allowed - and that does not include Leighton, who is the only player on the team's long-term injured list.
The Flyers are about $700,000 under the salary cap - it's $825,000 not counting the incentives that it appears winger Andreas Nodl will reach - and they will be over the cap when Leighton and his $1.55 million cap hit rejoin the team.
But the Flyers will be under the cap and at the 23-man limit if they remove either Walker ($1.7 million cap hit) or 23-year-old defenseman Oskars Bartulis ($600,000) from the roster, opening a spot for Leighton. Walker or Bartulis would have to pass through waivers before being sent to the Phantoms. Because of his salary, his age, and the fact he is coming off surgery, Walker figures to have a better chance to sneak through waivers.
Barring a trade (possibly for Nik Zherdev), Walker is the most logical choice to be sent down.
Walker's annual cap value extends through the end of 2012-13. Bartulis is also signed through the end of 2012-13, with an annual $600,000 cap hit.
If the Flyers don't feel Leighton is physically ready to return, he could remain on the long-term injury list, buying the Flyers some time before making a roster decision.
Anticipating a physical game against Boston, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette inserted winger Dan Carcillo into Saturday's lineup. Zherdev, who has nine goals and is on a 25-goal pace, was a healthy scratch.
Carcillo, playing for the first time since he sprained his left knee on Nov. 15, picked up an early interference penalty.
Carcillo started the game on a sandpaper line with Mike Richards and Nodl, while James van Riemsdyk moved onto a unit with Claude Giroux and Jeff Carter.
Goalie Brian Boucher, awarded for his outstanding performance in a 4-1 win in Toronto on Thursday, made his second straight start. Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to start Tuesday against visiting Pittsburgh. Bobrovsky is 2-1 against the Penguins this season. . . . The Flyers on Saturday played their sixth of 10 games in the first 20 days of December. . . . Holmgren said the seldom-used Bartulis may go on another conditioning stint with the Phantoms. . . . Tyler Seguin, Boston's outstanding rookie forward, missed the game with the flu. . . . In his second rehab start in as many nights, Leighton (28 saves) was sharp, but the Phantoms dropped a 2-1 decision to Portland.
- Sam Carchidi