Boucher hurt, Jones waived, Cap crunched

NEWARK, N.J. – Saturday night was rough for Flyers goaltender Brian Boucher.

First, he was toasted on a top shelf shot by New Jersey’s Dainus Zubrus just 100 seconds into the Flyers’ second to last preseason game.

Then, just 10 minutes later, Boucher left the game with what the Flyers are calling a “lower body injury.”

If that wasn’t enough, Boucher was coerced off the team’s bus – in the rain, no less – outside of the Prudential Center to talk to me and the other fine scribes assembled.

The injury terms – limited to just hockey these days – are ambiguous. Boucher didn’t reveal too much, but then again, he didn’t seem to be too worried about it.

“It’s not severe,” Boucher said. “It’s just in the lower body region.”

When asked, Boucher said it was not a cause for concern. He did say that it happened on a “movement” and that he wasn’t hit by anyone or a puck. That could mean that it was a groin or hamstring injury.

Flyers coach John Stevens had not talked to Boucher or team trainer Jim McCrossin and could not comment on the severity of the injury. He said that Boucher will be re-evaluated on Sunday morning at the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees.

“It’s disappointing,” Boucher said. “When you’re a new guy on a team, it’s not what you’re looking to do – to have to leave the game and subject your partner to that. He has to come in when he is cold and was supposed to have the night off.”

Boucher, slated to be the Flyers’ backup this season, was planning to play a complete 60-minute game for the first time in this preseason. His play in the first few games has been cause for concern. Boucher has now given up 7 goals against in 93 minutes of work and his save percentage is just 79-percent.

Ray Emery, on the other hand, was razor sharp again tonight in New Jersey. The Flyers lost 1-0 in their second to last preseason tune-up but Emery made a few huge saves to give them a chance to knot it at the end. Emery has allowed just one goal in his last two outings.

While the severity of his injury is not yet known, it is likely that Johan Backlund will be summoned from the Phantoms. Backlund, the Flyers’ third man in goal during training camp, was just sent to Glens Falls, N.Y., on Thursday.

Backlund would replace Boucher if he is not ready to go for Friday’s season opener in Carolina.

If for some reason Boucher’s injury is worse than the Flyers are letting on, they could be in the market for a free agent pick-up. Boucher’s salary would come off the books as he would jump to Long Term Injured Reserve. Manny Fernandez and Olaf Kolzig are two available names that jump out off the top of my head.

More than likely, though, Emery will just see all of the action until “Boosh” is ready to go.

Jones waived
As confirmed to you here on Frequent Flyers on Friday afternoon, the Flyers waived defenseman Randy Jones on Saturday. The move became official at noon.

"It was a difficult decision," Holmgren said. "We will see what happens over the next couple of days whether he gets claimed off of waivers or not. We need to have some flexibility with out roster and this potentially could give us more flexibility."

Instead of the normal 24-hour window for a player to be waived, teams will have 48 hours to claim Jones before he gets to the Phantoms because the move occurred on a weekend.

Any team laying claim to Jones would inherit his entire $3 million salary.

If he is not claimed, Jones will be placed on the Phantoms’ roster and his $2.75 million cap hit will be taken off the Flyers' books. He will still earn his regular salary; it just won't count against the cap.

He would stay there until the Flyers decide to re-call him to the NHL, at which point he would be subjected to re-entry waivers and up for grabs again.

I have received a lot of questions regarding the salary cap and how the Flyers will fit everyone in. General manager Paul Holmgren has said before that they would like to keep 23 players on the active roster out of the gate. That is the maximum allowed. It makes sense because the Flyers no longer have the convenience of pulling a player from the Phantoms quickly – they aren’t across the parking lot anymore.

Here is a breakdown of the 23 players that I think have played their way onto this team
(listed in order of cap hit with actual salary in parenthesis):

Forwards (14):
Danny Briere - $6,500,000 ($8,000,000)
Mike Richards - $5,750,000 ($5,600,000)
Simon Gagne - $5,250,000
Jeff Carter - $5,000,000
Scott Hartnell - $4,200,000
Ian Laperriere - $1,166,666
Dan Carcillo - $893,750 ($937,500)
James van Riemsdyk - $875,000
Claude Giroux - $821,667 ($850,000)
Arron Asham - $640,000
Blair Betts - $650,000***
Riley Cote - $550,000 ($525,000)
Darroll Powe - $520,000
Mika Pyorala - $500,000

Defense (7):
Kimmo Timonen - $6,333,333 ($7,000,000)
Chris Pronger - $6,250,000
Matt Carle - $3,437,500 ($3,350,000)
Braydon Coburn - $1,300,000 ($1,400,000)
Ryan Parent - $855,000 ($765,000)
Ole-Kristian Tollefsen - $600,000
Danny Syvret - $575,000

Goalies (2):
Ray Emery - $1,500,000
Brian Boucher - $925,000

Total: $55,092,916.00
Salary Cap: $56,800,000.00
Predicted Cap Space: $1,707,084.00

***Betts’ salary is predicted as he has not yet signed a contract. He has been in camp on a tryout contract. His salary last year with the Rangers was $615,000. Word could come as early as today whether he was signed or not.

Now, I am no capologist. I am not good with numbers. I am a writer. Keep that in mind.

However, you can see the significant impact that Jones’ demotion to the waiver wire has on the salary cap. Prior to this move, the Flyers didn’t have enough room to fit van Riemsdyk, Betts, Pyorala and Syvret at the same time. Heck, they didn’t have the roster space to fit all four of them. They couldn’t fit three of them with the cap though. Now they are all on board with room to spare.

Slap shots

  • Syvret took a nasty shot in the third period and hit his face on the dasher on his way down to the ice. He was slow to get up because he banged his mouth and knocked four of his front teeth loose; they were all connected on a bridge. He also chipped his right-front tooth pretty good, too.
  • John Stevens said that he has been impressed by Pat Maroon’s first two preseason games. He praised Maroon’s fitness and footspeed and said they he has placed himself on the depth chart. It will come down to a numbers thing with Maroon though and he will end up on the Phantoms.
  • Joey Mormina played in Saturday’s game at the Prudential Center. He was the last player still in camp that had not yet played in a preseason game.
  • The Flyers that did not play in Saturday’s game were Danny Briere, Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne, Ian Laperriere, Jason Ward, Randy Jones, Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen and David Laliberte.
  • The Flyers will be off on Sunday but will skate on Monday morning at the Skate Zone as they start to prepare for Friday’s regular season opener.
  • The deadline to finalize rosters for the season openers is Wednesday at 3 p.m.