As expected, Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald went unclaimed on the waiver wire and was officially loaned to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Tuesday.
MacDonald represents the Flyers' final cut and the team's roster is now set for Thursday's season opener against the Tampa Bay Lightning. All NHL clubs are required to have a 23-man roster filed to the league offices by 5 p.m. Tuesday.
General manager Ron Hextall on Monday said placing MacDonald on waivers was a difficult decision but that he is convinced he'll be back in the NHL at some point in the future.
“It’s disappointing I guess, but we’re caught in a tough place here and had to make a tough decision,” Hextall told reporters (see story).
“Obviously, we know Mac is a good NHL player. Is it what we wanted to do? No. If we could have avoided it, we would have.”
MacDonald has five years and $25 million remaining on his six-year, $30 million contract. By sending the veteran to the minors, the Flyers receive $950,000 in cap relief.
The 29-year-old was acquired by the Flyers from the New York Islanders prior to the trade deadline on March 4, 2014, and was later signed — by then-GM Paul Holmgren — to a long-term extension in mid-April. He was plagued by injuries and inconsistent play during his first full season with the Flyers last year, finishing with just two goals and 10 assists in 58 appearances.
In 372 career NHL games between the Flyers and Islanders, MacDonald, a sixth-round pick in 2006, has recorded 19 goals and 86 assists.
MacDonald will join a slew of promising young defensemen on the Phantoms' back end. Shayne Gostisbehere and Robert Hagg are expected to play vital roles on the blue line. It will also be interesting to watch the development of first-year pro Sam Morin, who was selected by the Flyers in the first round of the 2013 NHL draft.
The NHL salary cap is $71.4 million for the 2015-16 season. The Flyers currently have $670,000 in cap space. Their opening-night roster includes 14 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies.