Walker re-called; Bad sign for Pronger?

The Flyers hope to have Chris Pronger back for the first round series against the Sabres. (Yong Kim/Staff file photo)

In the NHL, there is no salary cap in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Teams are free to re-call and use any player they may have stashed in the minor leagues during the regular season, possibly due to salary cap restraints, if they can successfully drag him through re-entry waivers.

And that’s what the Flyers are attempting to do on Tuesday.

According to a TSN report out of Canada, the Flyers placed defenseman Matt Walker on re-entry waivers from AHL Adirondack on Monday.

Similar to Michael Leighton last week, all 29 other teams – including those no longer playing – have a chance to claim Walker for half of his $1.7 million salary, which still has two years remaining. The Flyers would be required to pay the other half.

It’s highly unlikely, though, that a team would be willing to take a stab at Walker, considering his injury history this season alone.

Walker, 31, was acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay back on July 19, 2010 that sent Simon Gagne to the Lightning. Walker has played in just 4 games for the Flyers this season, netting zero points while collecting 5 hits and 5 blocked shots.

Walker has played in just 15 total games this season between the NHL and AHL. Since he has undergone two separate hip surgeries (one on each side) and a knee surgery, Walker skated just 11 times for the Phantoms.

At this point, it appears that Walker is little more than another option for Peter Laviolette, as Danny Syvret has comfortably held down the Flyers’ sixth defensive spot in the absence of Chris Pronger. Syvret appeared to win the job in the final week of the season over veteran Nick Boynton, who was acquired from Chicago on waivers back on Feb. 26.

Walker has played in 21 career NHL playoff games, including 17 with Chicago in 2008-09.

Pronger, meanwhile, did not skate with his teammates again on Monday at the Flyers’ Skate Zone in Voorhees. It is believed that Pronger has not skated at all since March 28, raising multiple red flags about why a hand injury would suddenly derail Pronger’s feet from continuing to move on the ice.

General manager Paul Holmgren said in an e-mail on Monday afternoon that Pronger remains day-to-day. He missed the last 16 games of the regular season with his right hand surgery, which was supposed to not only strengthen the small bone that was fractured but also prevent re-injury.

The Flyers worked almost exclusively on special teams on Monday, which included penalty killing ace Blair Betts on the ice with his teammates. Betts, who is nursing a lower-body injury, appears to be ready for Game 1. He missed the last 3 games of the regular season.

The good news, though, is that Pronger did partake in the Flyers’ power play meeting, which is a sign he could be available to play. Or not.

“We worked on the power play today and he wasn’t out there,” Laviolette said. “So we have to move on and prepare. It’s hard to say that we’re preparing as if Pronger were in there for Game 1 because he wasn’t out there today. Our preparation remains the same as a group for our team.”

SABRES' EDGE: Up in Buffalo, Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller reiterated that he is “OK” to play in Game 1. He also asked for the city of Buffalo’s support against the Flyers.

“It’s kind of like we didn’t expect to be here, it’s kind of a bonus,” Miller told the Olean Times Herald. “Community-wise, I think that’s what I’m sensing. Everybody’s excited for that, where last year, there was expectation. Everyone was kind of antsy. We kind of backed our way into the playoffs. We could tell on the ice. Even when we’re not playing our best, we appreciate some support. We can’t be going into the room hearing boos. We need some help, we need some support, we need everything – the city behind us – to get us the right way.

“We need that energy. We feed off it. We need people to be excited about even the smallest plays. I think that’s kind of the difference is this year I think people are ready to start positive. Come along for the ride.”

Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff declared Derek Roy (quadriceps injury) out for the series, while Jordan Leopold (broken hand) is also likely out … Mike Grier (knee) is “getting better” … Andrej Sekera (upper-body) is “getting better,” also, and worked out off-ice on Monday … Ruff also said Jochen Hecht (upper-body) is “not close” but “has a chance” at playing in the series.

ABOUT TOWN: Flyers forward Ian Laperriere and alumni members Bernie Parent, Derian Hatcher, Bob Kelly and Joe Watson will make the trip to New York City to take part in one of America's oldest traditions on Wednesday. The Opening Bell is a ceremonial event to mark the beginning of the trading day for the NASDAQ Stock Market for investors and market participants from around the world. The ceremony, in which they will ring the opening bell and drop a ceremonial puck, will be broadcast live on the NASDAQ MarketSite seven-story tower in Times Square and via satellite to national and international media to commemorate the opening of the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.

For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers

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