Matt Walker on reentry waivers: What could go wrong?

This went up last night just before the game, but was quickly buried by the discussion thread. Bumping it up top this morning to give it a better look. - Travis

The news that the Flyers plan to try to bring Matt Walker through reentry waivers concerns me. Here's how I'm looking at it.

If Walker gets claimed, then instead of spending $1.7M on a #7 D (Walker), the Flyers will be spending $1.75M on a #7 D (Erik Gustafsson + 850k penalty).

On the surface, this seems pretty innocuous. If they could afford Walker, they could probably afford the penalty, so it doesn't really hurt, right? Not so fast...I'll explain some downsides after the jump.

For one thing, it's not clear that they could afford it. Sam Carchidi reports that the Flyers had only $21k of cap space before Walker got sent down, so they might not have room to add that $50k; cap constraints might force them to call up Kevin Marshall and his $846k cap hit instead of Gus and his $900k.

For another thing, it costs them flexibility. When they had this run of injuries, they could address the short-term need by replacing Walker's $1.7M with two cheaper players, but that's no longer an option in the new way of paying $1.7M for a #7 D.

Even worse, Walker's cap penalty would stay with the team next year. For a team that already has over $50M committed to next year's cap, plus over $3.5M in potential bonuses, and still needs to resign or replace Jagr, Voracek, Carle, and Coburn, that $850k in dead space could prove painful.

And finally, what does it mean for Gus/Marshall? Neither of them appears to be a superstar, but they're the best defensive prospects the Flyers have, and with three of their top six defensemen on the wrong side of 36, the Flyers have to assume the prospects will be needed in the near and medium term. Does putting them in a pressbox slow their development? Are they ready for full-time NHL action? This is unclear, but worth pondering.

Of course, the most likely outcome is that Walker doesn't get claimed because he's not even worth half of his cap hit. Which begs the question of whether he could really be enough of an upgrade over Gustafsson to be worth taking this risk.
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