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Matt Read clears waivers and is sent to Phantoms, Flyers’ roster now at 23

With Shayne Gostisbehere’s injury, the Flyers will carry eight defensemen to start the season, and Read was the casualty in the meantime.

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Buffalo Sabres Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE, 10/3: Read has cleared waivers and has been loaned to the Phantoms, per the team this afternoon.

Our guess is still that Read will probably not be with the Phantoms for long — just as long as it takes Shayne Gostisbehere to get healthy and the Flyers to want to send another defenseman to Lehigh Valley — but he’s heading there in the meantime. Original post from Monday afternoon below.

Sunday night’s roster cuts brought the Flyers down to 24 players, just one above where they’ll need to be by Tuesday afternoon. The original plan seemed to be to send one of Travis Sanheim or Samuel Morin up to Allentown, but a third-period injury suffered by defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere suddenly necessitated that the team carry an additional extra defenseman in the event of an injury on its season-opening four-game road trip.

Ron Hextall indicated last night that the Flyers would likely bring all three of Morin, Sanheim, and Robert Hagg to California with them, which meant that either Gostisbehere would be heading to injured reserve or that a forward would be waived. Today, we’ve learned that they’ve chosen the latter path, and that the casualty of that move is Matt Read.

First, the good news: The fact that Gostisbehere is likely not going to be on injured reserve suggests that this injury is likely not a serious one. That’s a good sign for a team that needs Gostisbehere to be in his top form this season after a rough 2016-17 campaign.

With the decision to carry eight defensemen for as long as Ghost is hurt, however, the Flyers’ forward ranks will have to be cut to 13, and it’s not too surprising that Read was the one who was left out. He — alongside Oskar Lindblom, who was sent to Lehigh Valley last night, and Jori Lehtera, who figures to be a healthy scratch in the season opener — was on the “scratch line” for the final preseason game, and his spot on the roster has felt a bit tenuous throughout this entire camp. We called him “one of the most expendable players currently on the roster” back in September, and the team’s decision to waive him essentially confirms his spot at the bottom of the priority list when it comes to the team’s forwards.

For Read, whose waiving comes after six years with the Flyers, the question now is what happens next. First, there’s the remote possibility that he gets claimed on waivers tomorrow. However, given his large cap hit (Read makes $3.625 million against the cap this year) and declining skills (he’s a solid fourth-line player at this point, but not much more), that seems unlikely.

What does seem most likely here, assuming he clears, is that Read will be back with the Flyers before too long. If Ghost ends up being healthy, the Flyers could even decide not to send Read to Lehigh Valley, since they have that option if he clears waivers. But the odds are that if he clears he’ll be sent to the Phantoms until the team knows that Gostisbehere is healthy, at which point they’ll likely bring him back up and send a defenseman to the Phantoms.

It’s theoretically possible that the team carries eight defensemen for a while even once Ghost is available, which would mean that Read would stay with the Phantoms for a while, but unless they’re willing to put all of Morin, Sanheim, and Hagg in the lineup — something they seem hesitant to do — they’ll probably send one of Morin or Sanheim to the Phantoms, where they can get consistent ice time.

We’ll have to see how things shake out once Gostisbehere is healthy and once we learn of Read’s waiver fate on Tuesday. But for now, there’s your 23-man opening-night roster.