The Phantoms, at or near the top of the AHL in scoring, may have too many forwards. It’s system depth alright, that’s for sure.
Yesterday, in a move that was at the same time expected and surprising, forwards Scott Laughton and Roman Lyubimov were sent on loan from the Flyers to the Phantoms as we approach a busy weekend of hockey.
The Laughton move was somewhat expected. He didn’t look overly sharp in his two games with the Phantoms last weekend on “conditioning.” And, although he was practicing with the Flyers this week, he was never activated from LTIR. With this move, he was activated and loaned. He did not need to pass through waivers. He’ll settle back in with his #49 sweater. We think his role with the Flyers needs to be at least on the third line, unless he can really score enough to crack the top 6 somehow. He’s not a checking line forward, and the Flyers really don’t have a place for him right now. He’ll need to continue to gain confidence, put points up, and force his way back up to the big club through his play on the ice.
The Lyubimov move was a bit more surprising, for a couple of reasons. Reports from Philly suggest the Flyers were pretty happy with the contributions from the 24-year old Russian in his first NHL campaign. He didn’t get consistent ice time, though, and perhaps they want him working on a particular role or skill, and want him on the ice every night to develop. I can’t speculate on what that might be, but the reason for the move from a Lyubimov perspective would be that. Like Laughts, Lyubimov did not need to pass through waivers. He’ll wear #15 with the Phantoms, and at 6’2″/207 does give the Phantoms attackers another body with some size.
Another puzzling aspect of these moves is the roster balance itself. The Fly guys head up to Toronto for a game tomorrow, as the Phantoms are heading to Utica, NY, 4-5 hours between them. The Flyers leave with a bare 12 forwards, while the Phantoms bus is packed to the gills with 16 forwards–15 healthy. Forward Boyd Gordon did skate for the Flyers yesterday in an optional practice, but reports suggest he isn’t eligible to come off LTIR for a few more days–even if he is fully healthy. This also leaves the Flyers overall roster short a spot.
The combination of the surplus and the deficit opens up the question of a trade. Where’s the deficit? NHL forward. Where’s the surplus? NHL defensemen and AHL forwards. So let’s speculate on a trade of AHL forward plus NHL defenseman for two NHL forwards. Here’s who I think will be involved…
HOLD THE PRESSES!
Lyubimov back to the Flyers this morning! That was quick, eh?
It was said to be a salary cap saving move, although it’s not exactly clear why they needed that for one day. Perhaps just to make sure of no violation while Laughton was concurrently activated from LTIR and then loaned? I’m only speculating. Our initial thoughts of a trade could have been right, but perhaps it couldn’t be completed in time for the weekend. Stay tuned, I guess. If the Laughton move required some temporary cap space, then another question that presents is, why didn’t they just leave him on “conditioning” through Wednesday? Perhaps the writing was on the wall.
In other roster news:
D Robert Hagg who took an errant puck up under the shield on Saturday, is still symptomatic with headaches. One assumes he’s in the concussion protocol in that case; he has been ruled out of this weekend’s games, it has been reported. I believe that will leave us with 6 healthy blue-liners as we head to Utica, with Lamarche seeing his first regular season ice time this year. Reading will be getting back into town following a game in Wheeling Friday night, should the Phantoms want to get Pettersson back for depth.
F Andy Miele has missed practice this week with what has been described as a “fluke” injury in press reports. He finished the game Saturday, but came up lame the next day. Initially reported as “upper body” the injury has now been reclassified as “body.” So, that’s as clear as mud–and we could speculate that he was held out of practice because he was part of a trade, but now I’m treading awfully close to “conspiracy theory” territory.
So, while an injury to my top-line centerman might normally make me nervous headed into a long weekend–and of course I wish Andy well–I feel good about our depth along the front lines.
See you at the arena–although maybe not until Wednesday,