During two of Shayne Gostisbehere’s six full seasons in the NHL, the defenseman has received votes for the Norris Trophy.
That’s why on Tuesday, the Flyers putting Gostisbehere on waivers was such a shock.
Transaction: We have placed defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere on waivers today.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) March 30, 2021
Gostisbehere has two years remaining on a six-year, $27 million dollar contract he originally signed in 2017. The defenseman’s cap hit is $4.5 million. He is a capable power-play quarterback and a top-four defenseman. He has 11 points (5g, 6a) in 25 games so far this season.
When analyzing the 27-year-old rearguard’s advanced analytics, he doesn’t appear to be a problem. At 5v5, his shot attempts percentage is about even (49.4), he’s been on the ice for two more opponent goals than the Flyers have scored (20 vs 22), and his xGF% is one of the highest on the team (51.6). He’s received middle pairing ice time.
So why did the Flyers make the move?
Sportsnet pointed out that the Flyers’ transaction comes after Gostisbehere had some “choice words” after an 8-3 loss to the Rangers last Thursday.
“It’s just unacceptable. It’s just straight not good enough right now,” Gostisbehere said after the loss. “We’ve got to be better as a team.”
Broad Street Hockey’s Madeline Campbell opined that the move could have been made to potentially bank cap space and stash Gostisbehere on the team’s taxi squad during non-game days.
If he clears, they can assign him to the taxi squad. We’ve seen them (and teams around the league) use this move all season, and assigning players to the taxi squad on non-game days allows them to bank cap space. The Flyers aren’t in dire need of cap space (though it’s hard to turn down more if they have another move coming).
That comes with risks though, such as the Florida Panthers, who have $9.5 million in cap space, claiming him after losing Aaron Ekblad for the remainder of the season.
Finally, Sam Carchidi, the Flyers beat writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, believes the team could be trying to make a major trade to shake things up.
#Flyers appear to be trying to free cap space to make a major deal.
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) March 30, 2021
Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said after practice that it gives the team “a little bit more flexibility from player personnel,” indicating that Gostisbehere was not a lock to play every night moving forward.
Alain Vigneault on Shayne Gostisbehere going on waivers: "Just gives us a little bit more flexibility from player personnel. I'm not sure about my lineup tomorrow, I'm not sure if he's going to be in. But if he's in then he's in, and if he's not then he's on the taxi squad."
— Adam Kimelman (@NHLAdamK) March 30, 2021
The Flyers, who were expected to challenge for a division title, have had awful goaltending this season and sit one point out of the final playoff spot in the East with three games in hand on the fourth-place Boston Bruins.
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