Jody Shelley is going to have to step aside for a couple of games following a hit on Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid that has him facing discipline from the league.
His punishment? A two game suspension.
Given his crime – a dangerous hit on an icing play that has been a focus of the NHL coming into this season – this punishment is relatively light. Let’s remember that Danny Briere was suspended three games earlier this year for raising his stick in an opponent’s face and grazing their helmet in a threatening manner. Who deserves to do more time?
It shouldn’t make much of a difference, though, as Shelley’s role on this team as heavyweight fighter isn’t going to be called upon too heavily during this two game stretch – Tuesday against the red hot Penguins and Wednesday against the Canadiens.
His spot will be filled by Nikolay Zherdev, who was scratched in Saturday’s game in Boston to allow for Dan Carcillo to return to the ice.
This break for Shelley may be a blessing in disguise for this Flyers’ roster, who should be dressing Zherdev on a nightly basis. He can’t be relied on defensively, that part is true, but that can more than be made up for with a couple of strong, defensive-minded linemates on the fourth line – a role that penalty killing specialists Darroll Powe and Blair Betts fill perfectly.
What Shelley brings to the table is 4-5 minute of effort a night, with the occasional dropping of the gloves. Those extra minutes of hard work can be easily picked up by this roster, which is stacked in that department – players like Richards, van Riemsdyk, Powe, Betts, Nodl, Hartnell, Carcillo, even Giroux and Leino all know how to work hard on the puck. And the fighting? It’s not like Dan Carcillo hasn’t had his share of bare knuckle brawls.
The point is, Jody Shelley doesn’t bring much to the ice aside from a threat of size. And as we’ve all been hearing for the past few years, that’s becoming less and less of a concern in the NHL. Hopefully these next two games give Dan Carcillo and Nikolay Zherdev – the two fringe players – a chance to prove that.
In other news, Ian Laperriere has finally been placed on the long-term injured reserve.
This move – bringing back Michael Leighton and placing Ian Laperriere on the reserve – leaves the Flyers with absolutely no cap room to go forward this season.
Leighton’s $1.55 million contract, when taken off the Flyers’ cap hit, puts the Flyers back over the salary cap (they’ve been spending over it all year, but the cushion afforded by Leighton being on LTIR gave them room to work with).
Unfortunately, moving Laperriere to injured reserve – with a contract of $1.166 million – doesn’t afford them enough room to move a player of even the league minimum salary up to the roster. So while this move has kept the Flyers cap compliant, it may not have been the best decision (waiving Matt Walker, perhaps?), as it leaves them high and dry should injuries leave them needing to call in backup.
Hopefully, with the extra skaters on the roster – Carcillo or Zherdev and Oskars Bartulis healthy scratches every night – this won’t be an issue.
That potential solution of waiving Walker will have to wait, unfortunately, as he will be undergoing another hip surgery – the first coming during the preseason and keeping him out for about 7 weeks. This one is projected to keep him off the ice for about six weeks.
According to the CBA, a player cannot be waived from the NHL roster if the injury is suffered during the offseason camp. Despite this being the second incident for Walker, the injury seems to have persisted since then, and so he will have to stay.
Barring a move from now until Walker is healthy, the Flyers will be pressed against the cap with no room to move, carrying three goaltenders. Whether one of those goaltenders is waived, a trade is made, or something else entirely is hard to say, so we’ll just have to wait and see.