Michael Leighton will be back next week; what should the Flyers do?

PHILADELPHIA - MAY 12: Michael Leighton #49 of the Philadelphia Flyers leads his team out to face the Boston Bruins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at the Wachovia Center on May 12, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Tim McManus broke the news this morning, reporting that Michael Leighton was on the ice practicing with the Adirondack Phantoms at the Glens Falls Civic Center. McManus also reported that Leighton will indeed play both games this weekend for the Phantoms, on Saturday in Wilkes-Barre and on Sunday in Atlantic City against the Albany Devils.

The Flyers announced a bit more news on Leighton this afternoon, adding that Leighton will stay with the Phantoms for a "6-day conditioning stint." The collective bargaining agreement gives the team two options after this six-day stint. Should the Flyers determine Leighton isn't ready after Sunday's game, they can ask Gary Bettman's office for a two-game extension on the conditioning loan.

If Leighton is ready after Sunday, he'll be forced to come off of long-term injured reserve immediately, and his salary will count against the Flyers cap on Monday. At the absolute latest, should he need that unlikely extension, he'd be back on the Flyers by the following Sunday, December 12 following two more games with Adirondack. Again, though, that's not likely.

The point of all this? The Flyers will need to clear $1.55 million in salary cap space by Monday. Financially and in a roster-space sense, the team cannot afford to carry three goaltenders. Not without making a move, at least.

We'll discuss exactly what the Flyers can do after the jump.

Some of the options...

- waive Matt Walker and his $1.7 million cap hit.

- place Walker on LTIR.

- place Ian Laperriere and his $1.166 million salary on LTIR.

- make a trade that frees up the necessary space.

We won't go into trade speculation because it would just be that -- wild speculation. Any of these other moves would get them under the cap for the time being, and it would remove one player from the active roster, which is also necessary as the Flyers are currently at the limit.

As our Geoff Detweiler pointed out yesterday, LTIR isn't the optimal solution.

Placing Lappy on LTIR doesn’t take his salary off the cap. So the Flyers will count his ~$1.1 mil cap hit against their upper limit regardless of whether he’s on LTIR or not. Placing him on LTIR only lets them add a player they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford.

Bringing that back to the daily calculation: If you put Lappy on LTIR so that you can carry three goalies, the Flyers will be over the salary cap for the entire season. They would simply be granted a cushion at the end of the year up to the total (number of days * the daily cap hit) of those players on LTIR.

So right now, the Flyers have spent ~$19k more than the salary cap. But that’s covered because of the LTIR cushion. So right now, the Flyers would be unable to take on any salary through the end of the year (that changes if they go some days without a player on LTIR this season) because they are technically at the salary cap.

Right now, they are spending ~$4,000 per day over the salary cap. That equals ~$850k over the cap at season’s end – forgiven due to LTIR – but if the Flyers wanted to trade, say Matt Walker for a guy making $2.5 million per year, they can’t due to LTIR. Even though they could have, had they never had a guy go on LTIR throughout the year.

Waiving Matt Walker at this point makes the most sense, but we'll see exactly how the Flyers handle this over the next couple of days. Decisions, decisions. 

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