With two visits to doctors, the Flyers' long-awaited roster issues disappeared yesterday with physicians' signatures.
At least for the time being.
Three moves, with varying salary-cap implications, were made.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren activated a healthy Michael Leighton to the 23-man roster, but in order to do that, he moved defenseman Matt Walker to injured reserve to make roster space and officially added Ian Laperriere's salary to the long-term injured reserve to create enough cap space for Leighton's $1.55 million salary.
Walker, Holmgren announced, will undergo surgery tomorrow on his left hip. Walker has a cam impingement and slight labral debridement, vaguely similar to the surgery he had on the right side of his hip on Oct. 20.
Holmgren said the injury has been "going back a little while," and Walker tried to play through it during his three-game conditioning stint with the Phantoms last weekend.
That didn't work.
Walker, who will earn $1.7 million each season through 2012-13, was acquired in a dual salary-dump trade with Tampa Bay for Simon Gagne in July. He has yet to appear in any of the Flyers' games this season after first injuring his hip in the preseason.
Walker's injury is not a long-term situation; Holmgren said he is "thinking 4 to 6 weeks" as a timetable for return.
Laperriere's impact on the salary cap, on the other hand, is something that could come back to haunt the Flyers later in the season if he is unfit to return to the lineup. Laperriere has yet to play because of post-concussion symptoms.
Overall, the Flyers have missed 109 man-games to injury this season, but, as it stands, Laperriere is now the only player on the long-term injury list. Leighton spent the first 69 days of the season on long-term injured reserve.
Players on the long-term injured list remain on salary cap but their salary is converted into a daily cushion that allows for a replacement player at or below his same salary. Relief only comes, however, if the replacement player's salary pushes the team over the $59.4 million cap.
Therefore, with Walker and Leighton both on the active roster, the Flyers are exactly $556,856 over the salary cap but are receiving a bonus cushion of $1.1 million from Laperriere's salary being on the long-term list. The Flyers have been operating near the upper limit for almost the entire season, but had avoided moving Laperriere until now.
"I didn't want to do that," Holmgren said. "If I knew Ian was coming back, I wouldn't be so reluctant. But I have doubts that he's going to come back [this year]. That means you're on long-term for the rest of the year. It creates implications that aren't great."
Laperriere cannot be cleared from the list without clearance from a doctor.
The implications are that anyone the Flyers want to acquire between now and the end of the season - or want to recall from Adirondack - has to financially fit between the Flyers' overage and their cushion from Laperriere.
As it stands now, that space can accommodate a player that makes an annual salary of $543,144 or less. Unfortunately for the Flyers, only five players signed to contracts - Zac Rinaldo, Tyler Hostetter, Dan Jancevski, Matt Clackson and Michael Ryan - fit that criteria.
Besides being a 7:30 p.m. start tonight in Montreal, the Flyers' matchup with the Canadiens will be broadcast on the alternate television (Comcast Network) and radio (WPHT-1210 AM) stations with the Sixers hosting the Los Angeles Clippers on Comcast SportsNet and 610-WIP. *