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Why today's Flyers roster moves make complete sense

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If you're not caught up, let's recap all the pertinent news of the last few days.

  • Chris Pronger was injured on Thursday night. As a precaution, he'll be sitting out tonight's game in Ottawa.
  • Erik Gustafsson was called up yesterday and will play in place of Pronger tonight. Also, Oskars Bartulis is apparently out for the season. 
  • Defenseman Nick Boynton was claimed off of waivers today at 12 p.m. It's a great move by Paul Holmgren to fill in for Bartulis. Boynton is better in that seventh defenseman role than just about every option, including a healthy Bartulis, Danny Syvret, Gustafsson and Kevin Marshall
  • Boynton's addition gives the Flyers one extra player on the roster, meaning somebody has to go down. The Flyers opted to send James van Riemsdyk to the Phantoms to make the space.

And.... people are furious with that. Go over to the Flyers official page on Facebook and you'd think that Holmgren took van Riemsdyk out behind the shed and beat the life out of him. This is really not that big of a deal. We'll try to explain after the jump.

As mentioned, Pronger is not playing tonight. He's likely fine but this is just a precaution to make sure he'll be fine long-term. As we talked about yesterday, it's nice that Erik Gustafsson will be getting a chance to play, too.

After the claim of Boynton, the Flyers had 24 players on the active roster:

Forwards (14): Mike Richards, Kris Versteeg, Andreas Nodl, Jeff Carter, Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk, Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell, Ville Leino, Nikolay Zherdev, Jody Shelley, Darroll Powe, Dan Carcillo, Blair Betts

Defense (8): Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn, Andrej Meszaros, Sean O`Donnell, Nick Boynton, Erik Gustafsson

Goal (2): Sergei Bobrovsky, Brian Boucher

Injured (don't count against roster limit): Oskars Bartulis, Ian Laperriere

A lot of people seemed to think that since Zherdev was on waivers, he was off the roster. Waivers gives the Flyers the option to send him down to the Phantoms, but they have not exercised that option. Until they do, he's on the Flyers roster. The team has until Zherdev plays 10 games or 30 total days to send him down before he must clear waivers again. 

So yes, there's your roster. Now, the limit is 23 players, so Boynton's acquisition means that somebody has to go. Betts is getting better so he won't be going on IR, and Pronger is fine and just sitting as a precaution, so he won't be going on IR. Somebody has to come off the roster.

There are two players there who are waiver exempt: van Riemsdyk and Gustafsson. Any of the other players would have to clear waivers to be sent down to the Phantoms, including Andreas Nodl. 

Zherdev is an exception since he's already cleared waivers, but if they were to send him down, he'd A) have to clear re-entry to come back up and B) there's a chance that he'd not report, even though he reportedly said he would. It's Zherdev -- you can never be too sure.

Simply put, sending down Zherdev would be an unnecessary risk. Despite his faults, it's clear that the Flyers want hm around as depth in the postseason. There's no reason to risk losing him for nothing if he's accepted that he's going to be here -- which, after clearing waivers, it seems he has. 

Thus, it only makes sense to send down one of the two players who are waiver exempt. So why JvR and not Gustafsson? Well, as we mentioned, Gustafsson is playing tonight for Pronger. Boynton could theoretically fill in for Pronger instead, but he's not able to get to Ottawa in time for the game.

So Gustafsson will stay with the team tonight, play vs. Ottawa, while James van Riemsdyk "goes" to the Phantoms. There's some confusion on if he actually has to physically report to the Phantoms. If he does, they're home in Glens Falls tonight. van Riemsdyk will certainly not play a game with the Phantoms, and there's no doubt that he's back with the Flyers before their next game on Thursday.

Gustafsson will go back to Adirondack after tonight's game and JvR will come back. Not a big deal, right?