The “Ghost’’ will be staying put in his old haunt.
At least for now.
Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, who was put on waivers Tuesday, went unclaimed on Wednesday and will remain with the team.
On Tuesday, coach Alain Vigneault announced that if Gostisbehere cleared waivers (which Vigneault expected would happen), the Flyers would have more “roster flexibility.’’
Vigneault indicated he would have at least one extra space on his 23-man roster, possibly to use on one more forward.
For Wednesday night’s game, Vigneault employed some of that strategy, plus a couple more moves.
First, Gostisbehere was placed on the taxi squad while Erik Gustafsson returned to the lineup and was paired with Samuel Morin.
Next, Vigneault said he planned to sit out both forwards Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom, basically for rest reasons, and inserting Connor Bunnaman and Carsen Twarynski.
Gostisbehere, 27, cleared at noon Wednesday but the Flyers did not hold a morning skate at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, so Vigneault didn’t address the moves until late afternoon.
“My initial reaction is I’m not surprised he cleared waivers,’’ Vigneault said in a media Zoom call. “It permits us to have a little bit more flexibility.
“One of the flexibilities I was looking for was to have the possibility to sit out both Oskar and Patty,’’ Vigneault said. “I feel both of them need a break. To be able to do that, there’s a limit on the 23-man roster. Because we have three goaltenders in that situation and I took Nolan and Oskar out and put Connor and Twarynski in, that gives us 14 forwards. That’s the 23-man limit.’’
Vigneault went on to say that putting Gostisbehere on the taxi squad gives the Flyers six defensemen (the minimum needed).
Both Lindblom and Patrick are coming off serious medical issues from 2020.
“I really feel that Oskar and Patty. . .these are different circumstances here than normal,’’ Vigneault said. “It’s a real challenge. From what both those young men have gone through – but by sitting them out tonight and no practice tomorrow, I’m giving them almost 72 hours until Friday until they touch the ice.
“I think for them mentally and physically, it’s going to be beneficial for them and for our team.’’
By having the ability to shuttle Gostisbehere back and forth from the taxi squad, the Flyers can save a bit of salary cap money as well.
The recent strong play of Morin has created a bit of a logjam on defense.
Vigneault hasGustafsson, the $3-million free-agent signee, sitting on the bench. Journeyman Nate Prosser also has seen some action.
Even though Gostisbehere went” unclaimed, that doesn’t mean he won’t continue to be dogged by trade rumors. For more than a year, the Pembroke Pines, Fla. native has been the subject of speculation he would be moving on.
One team in particular, the Florida Panthers, figured to be a logical landing spot via waivers because of the “hometown’’ connection.
But apparently the Panthers, like the other NHL teams, didn’t want to go near Gostisbehere’s $4.5-million paycheck, especially in a time when the salary cap is not conducive to big money additions.
Morin, who came up through the system roughly the same time as Gostisbehere, said he was happy that his comrade was still with the Flyers.
“I know it’s probably hard for Ghost right now,’’ Morin said. “He’s one of my really good friends here. I’ve been around him a long time. We’re drafted almost the same time. He went through the same injury (ACL) as me.
“I’m happy he’s still here. I’m sure he’s going to help us in the long game. He’s a great player, great with the puck.’’
>Avoiding slow starts
Falling behind early has been a problem for the Flyers all year. They were hoping to get away to a quicker start on Wednesday night.
“I think at the end of the day for our group, for my leadership group and for all our players, a sense of urgency as far as where we are in the schedule; it’s a fact that we need wins,’’ Vigneault said. “We’re out of the playoff picture right now.
“Our first goal is to get into the playoffs. To do that we need to win some games. There has to be a sense of urgency to get the job done. We addressed it internally, the fact that we need good starts.’’
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