Trade deadline 4/3 (UPDATED)
The Philadelphia Flyers made a couple of transactions on Wednesday to bolster their roster, but it's the three minor ones they made that could have a more direct impact on the Adirondack Phantoms.
By sending down winger Tye McGinn and defensemen Erik Gustafsson and Oliver Lauridsen to the Adirondack Phantoms just prior to the 3 p.m. deadline, the Flyers effectively preserved the trio’s eligibility for the nine games remaining in Adirondack’s American Hockey League schedule.
The NHL’s collective bargaining agreement with its players’ union allows teams to loan players to their minor league affiliates until the trade deadline, but the rules change when that time comes. Once the deadline passes, NHL teams can only assign a player to the AHL if that player was on an AHL roster at the deadline. Teams usually circumvent this policy by making a paper transaction: They send the player to the minor leagues minutes before the deadline, then immediately call him back up once it passes. That is reportedly what the Philadelphia Flyers did Wednesday afternoon, with the trio, though there was no public evidence that the three transactions ever went through.
Their demotions and subsequent promotions were not logged on the AHL’s transaction website Wednesday, and neither the Flyers nor Phantoms publicly announced the moves before the 3 p.m. deadline. Inquiries to the front offices of both teams yielded no definitive answers either way. A Philadelphia Flyers team source said the Flyers could not make the moves because the trio of players skated Wednesday morning. Then the Philadelphia Flyers inside reporter, Anthony SanFilippo, wrote on the team’s website that the trio of roster moves had indeed been made.
Long story short, you could still maybe see McGinn, Lauridsen or Gustafsson in Glens Falls again this year. It is not that surprising the Flyers elected to go the paper transaction route to at least keep the three's AHL eligibility -- especially in Lauridsen and Gustafsson's case. Nicklas Grossman is close to returning, which means the Flyers will have eight healthy defensemen. Two of them are going to be scratched per night, and suppose Gustafsson and/or Lauridsen struggle in an upcoming game and wind up in the press box for a night. They would not be scratched here with the Phantoms.
By the same token, however, Gustafsson, Lauridsen and McGinn are going to be practicing with NHL players and playing some meaningful games as they try and help the Flyers secure a playoff spot. These last few games for Adirondack are pretty much meaningless, as the Phantoms are all-but-guaranteed to miss the playoffs for the fourth time in four seasons. It's probably better for their development for them to stick around the NHL, but that also doesn't really provide much comfort for Phantoms fans. It's tough to sell a die-hard fan on Gustafsson or Lauridsen sitting one game out in Philadelphia when they could be playing top-pairing minutes with the Phantoms. Philadelphia's actions today indicate the latter is still on the table, so there's that to potentially look forward to.
With no 23-man roster limit now, the Flyers really don't have anything to lose by keeping them up there. They will count against the salary cap and make a little more, but that's not a major factor.
The moves the Flyers did make were done to bolster their depth.
They acquired Steve Mason from the Columbus Blue Jackets for former Adirondack Phantoms standout Michael Leighton and a third-round pick. If I were Leighton, I would be thrilled about this deal. The Flyers just buried him in the minor leagues for two seasons and then the Flyers leaned on Bryzgalov so heavily this season as they tried to climb out of the cellar that Leighton played a grand total of two games in the NHL. He realistically can't get any less of an opportunity to play with the Blue Jackets. Plus, Columbus worked out awfully great for the last Flyers goalie to be dealt there.
Cal Heeter was called up to back up Bryzgalov tonight while the team awaits the arrival of Mason.
The Flyers also claimed forward Adam Hall on waivers from Tampa Bay, and that gives them a bit of extra depth at forward and should help them deal with the loss of Maxime Talbot to a broken leg.
The Phantoms still have Scott Munroe and Brian Boucher between the pipes. The lines at practice ran Wellwood-Roe-Akeson, Noebels-Flanagan-Sim, Laliberte-Bordson-Harper and FitzGerald-Slater-Mathers, but I'd expect those to change tomorrow now that the Phantoms have signed Brandon Alderson to an amateur try-out contract. He's a big (6-foot-4) winger who is coming is coming off a breakout junior season for the Ontario Hockey League’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds during which he produced 28-36-64 in 67 games. He cleared up some Visa issues and arrived just after practice.
Phantoms coach Terry Murray had few updates Wednesday on the status of highly touted Flyers prospect Nick Cousins, Alderson’s teammate in Sault Ste. Marie. Cousins, Philadelphia’s third-round pick in 2011, ranked third in OHL scoring this year with 27-76-103 in 64 games, but that has been overshadowed by the allegations that he and two teammates sexually assaulted a woman they knew.
Cousins and the teammates are due in court Thursday to answer that charge. For what it's worth, Murray said he had not heard Cousins’ name mentioned in any amateur try-out conversations in about three weeks. If I hear any updates on him and his status, I'll be sure to pass them along. EDIT: Dustin Leed of TheHockeyGuys.net says Cousins told him he will be in Adirondack this weekend.
Keep in mind that the Phantoms could theoretically acquire another player on loan before next Wednesday's AHL trade deadline, but I think they're much more likely to be sellers or just inactive. Their already-slim chances of a playoff berth will be even slimmer, if not gone entirely, by that point.
Until next time,