Shaping the Philadelphia Flyers opening night lineup after Tuesday's roster moves

Alright, so lots of Philadelphia Flyers roster moves today. Let's run through them one at a time.

- Blair Betts has been placed on waivers, and for what he does and at his $700,000 price tag, we'd be shocked if he were still a member of this organization come 12 p.m. on Wednesday. Somebody will almost definitely claim him. We're using pencil on everything at this point, but we're erasing him from our roster for now. More on this in a bit.

- Brayden Schenn was sent to the Phantoms today (no waivers necessary), but this looks like it's all for salary cap concerns. His agent apparently did a horrible job when it comes to his bonuses, as CapGeek reported this afternoon that once Schenn spends a day in the minor leagues, he's no longer eligible to earn many of his bonuses. (Or maybe you think it's brilliant.)

As a result, Schenn's cap hit will drop from $3.11 million to $1.705 million after spending just one day off the Flyers roster this season. That's incredible, and it's unbelievable that his agent didn't address this. It sucks for Schenn, but it's great for the Flyers. Good on them for noticing it and taking advantage. 

It also means that Schenn will most likely be back in Philadelphia after the first day of the NHL regular season. We could see him back here by Friday, ready to go and with a much cheaper price tag around his ear. 

- Harry Zolnierczyk and Erik Gustafsson were also sent to the Phantoms. They do not have to clear waivers and will report to Adirondack immediately. Hell, they might already be there.

- Defensemen Matt Walker and Oskars Bartulis were placed on waivers, and who the hell knows if they'll clear or not. Walker makes a lot of money and has cleared waivers before, so if we had to guess, we'll assume he'll clear. Bartulis is a serviceable defenseman at a low cap hit and we could see him getting picked up. It's all wait and see until 12 p.m. on Wednesday.

So those are the moves. What does it all mean?

Given all the moves, this is what we're looking at right now. Thanks as always to CapGeek.com for the information and their handy Cap Calculator. 

Scott Hartnell ($4.200m) / Danny Briere ($6.500m) / Jakub Voracek ($2.250m)
Jaromir Jagr ($3.300m) / Claude Giroux ($3.750m) / James Van Riemsdyk ($1.654m)
Matt Read ($0.900m) / Sean Couturier ($1.375m) / Wayne Simmonds ($1.750m)
Zac Rinaldo ($0.544m) / Maxime Talbot ($1.750m) / Andreas Nodl ($0.845m)
Jody Shelley ($1.100m)

Kimmo Timonen ($6.333m) / Chris Pronger ($4.921m)
Andrej Meszaros ($4.000m) / Matt Carle ($3.437m)
Braydon Coburn ($3.200m) / Andreas Lilja ($0.737m)

Ilya Bryzgalov ($5.666m) / Sergei Bobrovsky ($1.750m)

CARRY-OVER BONUS PENALTY: $1,402,500

SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $61,367,539; BONUSES: $2,150,000
CAP SPACE (21-man roster): $2,932,461

Now, that's only a 21 man roster with 13 forwards and six defensemen. 

First, on defense: the fact that Gustafsson was sent down makes us believe that the Flyers believe one of either Walker or Bartulis will clear waivers. They do not have to send these players down if they do clear, and considering it doesn't make sense to only carry six defensemen, we have to expect that one of those guys will wind up on the roster.

Paul Holmgren has reportedly spoken very highly of Walker lately, as has Peter Laviolette. Maybe they're trying to talk him up a little bit in hopes that he gets claimed. Or maybe it's legitimate praise. At this point, we're going to pencil Walker in as the seventh defenseman (or maybe sixth over Lilja, who knows?) if only because he's more likely to clear waivers.

Penciling him in.

Scott Hartnell ($4.200m) / Daniel Briere ($6.500m) / Jakub Voracek ($2.250m)
Jaromir Jagr ($3.300m) / Claude Giroux ($3.750m) / James Van Riemsdyk ($1.654m)
Matt Read ($0.900m) / Sean Couturier ($1.375m) / Wayne Simmonds ($1.750m)
Zac Rinaldo ($0.544m) / Maxime Talbot ($1.750m) / Andreas Nodl ($0.845m)
Jody Shelley ($1.100m)

Kimmo Timonen ($6.333m) / Chris Pronger ($4.921m)
Andrej Meszaros ($4.000m) / Matt Carle ($3.437m)
Braydon Coburn ($3.200m) / Andreas Lilja ($0.737m)
Matt Walker ($1.700m)

Ilya Bryzgalov ($5.666m) / Sergei Bobrovsky ($1.750m)

CARRY-OVER BONUS PENALTY: $1,402,500

SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $63,067,539; BONUSES: $2,150,000
CAP SPACE (22-man roster): $1,232,461

There we are with the defense set. Ideally, we'd like to have Bartulis in that spot on defense for cap reasons, but that's what we're likely looking at. For comparison, though, if it were Bartulis instead of Walker, the cap space would be $2.33 million instead of $1.23 million -- a savings of $1.1 million against the cap. That's a big difference.

Either way, this is basically how the Flyers opening night roster seems to shape up. After Thursday? Well, that's when things get a little more interesting.

That difference between Walker and Bartulis is actually a pretty big when it comes to Brayden Schenn's immediate future -- as in, while Rinaldo and Shelley are both on the team. If Walker is there, that $1.23 million in cap space isn't enough to fit Schenn on the club, even with the extra savings that's been created on his cap hit due to some shrewd management by the team. If Bartulis is in there, though, the Flyers can fit Schenn in right away.

A lot of this rides on waivers tomorrow, and a lot of it rides on just how much the Flyers really like Walker. They've said they do lately. They might be bluffing. We'll find out before Thursday, to be sure. It's simple though: if you're a fan of Brayden Schenn playing in Philadelphia rather than Glens Falls to start the season, you want Bartulis on the team instead of Walker.

From there, the only other move revolves around Sean Couturier. We're sticking with the belief that he can only play nine games in the NHL before one year of his entry-level contract burns off, according to CBA Section 9.1(d)(i), even if Paul Holmgren says it's 11 games. We're going to try to clear this up with a source not in the Flyers organization, because the team has proven that they don't always know what they're talking about with this stuff. So stay tuned for that.

In any case, it makes complete sense to keep Couturier around for the nine games. There's no downside if it doesn't cost the team anything. It's a trial period. If he kicks ass in that time, maybe you keep him around all year, but really, he's probably better off going back to Juniors no matter what. There's no chance of hurting his development when he's kicking ass in Drummondville, but rushing him into the NHL is the perfect way to mess with that development. Risk for the sake of risk is silly. 

But we'll cross that bridge in a few weeks. And we'll also cross the Jody Shelley/Zac Rinaldo bridge at some time as well once Shelley's suspension ends after five games. But for now, it looks like we have an opening night roster just about set. How do you feel about it?

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