Although a recent three-game benching and some outspoken comments by Shayne Gostisbehere seemed to cast him in a questionable light, the Flyers say the decision to put him on waivers noon Tuesday was simply for “roster flexibility.’’
The 27-year-old defenseman has been through a lot over the past couple years, including a pair of knee surgeries. Tuesday’s move was just another check mark on his personal dark list.
The 30 other NHL teams have 24 hours to put in a claim for the Pembroke Pines, Fla. native.
If Gostisbehere clears waivers at noon Wednesday, he can be moved to the taxi squad and remain with the team.
Given his $4.5-million annual salary, there’s probably a better than 50-50 chance he goes unclaimed.
Coach Alain Vigneault insisted this was simply a matter of creating more flexibility on his 23-man roster.
If “Ghost’’ clears, no harm, no foul. Everyone from the owner to the stickboy knows hockey is a business and a results-driven one at that.
“We do believe he’s going to clear waivers,’’ Vigneault said in a media Zoom call.
Gostisbehere practiced with the team in Buffalo about 30 minutes after the announcement was made. How awkward that might have been can only be imagined.
Actually, if Gostisbehere is still here on Wednesday, he could play in that night’s game against the Sabres.
“I’m not sure about my lineup tomorrow,’’ Vigneault said. “I’m not sure if he’s going to be in. If he’s in, he’s in. If not, he’s on the taxi squad.
“It permits me to have one more player available on our roster. It was just a question of a little bit more flexibility.’’
Gostisbehere was not made available for comment.
The Flyers selected Gostisbehere with their third-round pick (78th overall) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He made a big splash his freshman season (2015-16) when he set records for first-year players (including 17 goals, four of them in overtime) and was a Calder Trophy (rookie of the year) finalist.
But aside from a 65-point year in 2017-18, Gostisbehere’s career has been marked by ups and downs.
Why has his stock fallen so quickly this season? Especially given that he’s played at times on the top defensive unit with Ivan Provorov.
“Shayne, like the rest of our group, has had some consistency issues,’’ Vigneault said. “He’s not the only one.’’
Scott Laughton was the Flyers’ first-round pick in that 2013 draft and he and Gostisbehere have been through a lot together, going back to their early days on the Phantoms.
“It’s tough,’’ Laughton said. “You spend a lot of time with that guy. We got drafted together, so I’m pretty close with him.
“You just got to come to work every day and I think ‘Ghost’ did a good job with that today. I talked to him today and I’ll probably talk to him more in the afternoon. It’s bad to see that but we all know it’s a business.’’
Goaltender Brian Elliott said when a situation like this arises, every player has to act professionally.
“I think everybody understands it’s a business,’’ he said. “It’s our passion, playing the game our whole lives. When you get to this level, winning is expected. It’s demanded.
“Some moves in some situations you don’t understand quite all the aspects of it. For everybody, it’s taking it the right way and trying to get better. Whatever’s thrown your way, it’s just another hurdle in your journey. I think we handled it as a group. You try to be supportive, push each other and try to get better.’’
>New Couturier line may stick
Vigneault reassembled a line of Sean Couturier-Claude Giroux-Jake Voracek for the second half of Monday night’s come-from-behind 4-3 overtime win over the Sabres.
The coach disclosed there are a couple players who have some “maintenance issues,’’ which could necessitate some new line changes, rather than sticking with the Couturier unit.
“But I would be very inclined at this time to keep that line together the way they played the third period,’’ Vigneault said.
>Big wins don’t seem to have carryover effect
The Flyers have had their struggles in March. When they do get a big come-from-behind win or a tight-checking, low-scoring victory, they can’t seem to carry that momentum over to the next game.
What gives with that?
“I’m not sure why and that’s something we have to do here,’’ Laughton said. “We’ve won two in a row and that’s something we have to build off.
“We have to come to work tomorrow and try and keep this thing going. We have to be ready and hopefully we are.’’
After Saturday’s dramatic 2-1 win over the Rangers, the Flyers came out and played 40 minutes of horrible hockey against the Sabres on Monday night.
“Hopefully a little bit of a wakeup call,’’ said Elliott, who will start his third straight game in goal when the Flyers play the rematch against the Sabres on Wednesday night.
“The first couple periods we sort of threw our sticks on the ice (shades of pond hockey). Maybe we thought it was going to come easier than it did. We should be coming out like we did in the third period right from the start and I think everybody realizes that.’’
Elliott is 17-2-2 for his career against Buffalo.